Leisure Link's "itbox" Is Touchscreen Enabled by Elo's Latest Technology
London January 2002
Leisure Link is the world's largest provider of out-of-home entertainment solutions, operating more than 90,000 pay-to-play machines in the UK's leisure retail market. The company's new "itbox" machine provides a totally different concept in electronic entertainment and is operated with a touchscreen. Leisure Link chose Elo TouchSystems' iTouch touch-on-tube as its preferred touch technology for this latest product. The "itbox" has only been in the field for a few months but it is already obvious that the concept is a hit. Here is the story behind the birth of a highly successful total entertainment system.
Leisure Link decided it needed to carry out research to assess the market, before it commissioned its new machine. The "itbox" is the result of this market research which was combined with its broad and long experience in the leisure market. The machine is aimed at providing for the future needs of electronic entertainment, including how to boost the percentage of customers actually using the entertainment facilities in a leisure venue. The research also answered two critical questions about the future: is there a business opportunity for the new tool, and, if so, how big is it? Leisure Link discovered the opportunity is certainly there, and, importantly, it is massive. The research concluded several other points, including the fact that visitors to any leisure venue like to be entertained, they are youngish and have youthful attitudes, and they visit pubs and clubs between two and three times per week. Additionally, both men and women will socialise in groups and they welcome new ideas and new choices of entertainment in these leisure venues.
Leisure Link has developed a way of satisfying the demands highlighted in the research. Using the latest technology available, they developed the first-ever, digital, out-of-home entertainment concept in the UK. Chris Simon, Leisure Link's Marketing Director, said: "Traditionally, the facilities in an establishment would consist of an AWP machine, a quiz machine and a video game each placed in a convenient location around the facility. We decided to take a fresh approach to complement the existing equipment with a complete entertainment package which would include games, music, video clips, e-commerce, promotions and more, all available, as required, from one machine. Although not designed to replace all the existing machines, it would offer a new and dynamic facility for the leisure manager. The result is our entertainment platform, 'itbox'."
"The touchscreen-driven terminal is an exciting and striking new design which will draw the consumer towards it," Chris Simon continued, "however, the key to the machine's success is its content. A leisure establishment's users are often completely different on a Tuesday lunchtime to a Friday evening, and again different on a Sunday afternoon. The "itbox" is a totally new concept which delivers whatever entertainment the establishment wants, whenever it is required. It can be programmed to enable family content earlier in the day and to automatically switch to a different form of entertainment and alternative services and opportunities in the evening. What is most important is that the machine can be changed and updated remotely and frequently to ensure users do not tire of the content."
Mike Schweers, Leisure Link's Technical Manager, commented: "The touchscreen and display play an important role in the overall effectiveness of itbox, so it is critical to its success as an interactive entertainment machine. At the development stage, we decided to produce a commercial trial using different touchscreen manufacturer's technologies. Having analysed the results at the end of the trial, we discovered the units fitted with Elo's touch technology were streets ahead of the other units and it proved to provide a better all-round consumer experience. In addition, some manufacturers touchscreens, based on an overlay technology, and used in the trial, were subject to breakage. Elo's iTouch solves that issue as it has no overlay."
"The touchscreen is based upon Elo's surface wave technology, called iTouch, which provides us with superior clarity, fast and accurate response and excellent durability. Mike Schweers continued: "Another feature of Elo's touchscreen is the capability for z-axis control, which allows us to add further functionality as we develop and roll out new entertainments. For example, the z-axis allows us to take advantage of how much pressure a user puts on the screen. This effectively acts like pressing an accelerator to go faster."
The initial trial and our first commercial roll-out of more than 1,500 units were in place in the UK by the end of 2001. For us, an important feature of Elo's iTouch technology is the excellent picture clarity due to the 100% light transmission", concluded Mike Schweers.
Elo's iTouch "touch-on-tube" technology eliminates the need for a glass overlay by applying surface wave technology directly to the extra-strong CRT faceplate. Mike Sigona, Elo's European gaming market manager said: "iTouch 'touch-on-tube' technology builds on the success of IntelliTouch by eliminating the glass overlay and placing the 'touchscreen' directly on the CRT surface. This eliminates parallax due to the added glass, maintains 100% of the picture quality including light transmission, colour purity and graphic quality, takes advantage of the CRT's tough tube faceplate, and has no added reflection. The end-result for the user is a sharp, high-contrast image, attractive colours and decreased frustration from 'missing' even small touch targets because of its drift-free accuracy. For the business, it helps increase profitability from greater usage, provides lower maintenance costs and less risk from vandalism," concluded Mike Sigona.
Chris Simon, Leisure Link's Marketing Director, continued: "itbox content is the key to the true success and we worked hard to ensure that there is a package suitable for any leisure environment. The leisure site manager simply chooses the content and the times they wish to present the selections. The programmable content ranges from traditional puzzle and quiz games with tournament capabilities, video clips of films, chart music and albums, through to sports action and footage from the most recent two seasons of Premiership football. The content also includes one of the most statistically accurate racing tips service in the UK. In addition, users can download the latest ringtones for their mobile phones or, for the more mature audiences, there is an adult package available. They simply choose their requirements using the touchscreen display and pay for the services with coins, notes or credit cards.
itbox is more than simply a blue and yellow box, it is a full entertainment system which is upgradeable quickly and easily to the fast-paced world of leisure. We anticipate itbox becoming the de-facto standard entertainment tool for all sectors of the leisure industry", said Chris Simon.
Elo TouchSystems, iTouch, and Entuitive are trademarks of Elo TouchSystems, Inc. All other products and company names referred to herein may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.