Razorfish Aims to Simplify Touchscreen Creations

Any parent of a two-year-old will attest to the near impossibility of enforcing the “look-but-don’t-touch” rule. Digital agency Razorfish is counting on the two-year-olds in all of us to propel its new touchscreen technology for interactive apps and ads.

The new Razorfish Touch Framework software is designed to simplify the creation of touch-based advertising experiences that work on multiple Microsoft Windows-based platforms and surfaces including retail kiosks, window displays and mobile devices, said Jonathan Hull, director of Razorfish Emerging Experiences, the team that created it. Razorfish has been demonstrating applications of the Razorfish Touch Framework for more than a year, but only now is offering the software for licensing by its clients.

In announcing the product’s availability, Razorfish said the Razorfish Touch Framework is made up of modules that are built on the Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). It is built to provide users with “a core set of touch-enabled controls” to simplify the development of touch-based applications. “We recognized a need in the market for this technology, based on past work we’d been doing plus scanning the industry,” Hull said. “One of the biggest value propositions of the Razorfish Touch Framework is that it allows you to develop a single experience that you can port across multiple devices.”

For example, a retailer that has different-sized stores can have a large “touchwall” display in its bigger outlets and smaller touch surfaces in smaller locations. By using the Razorfish platform, both displays will perform essentially the same. “It’s a pretty good value proposition,” Hull said. “You can take one experience and port it to different types of devices so it really reduces costs. Since much of the functionality is pre-built, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

Hull said some major retailers are already working with the software. He said he was not permitted to name them, but Hull said Razorfish is “working with some of the largest telecom industry clients” that are going to be installing touch displays built with the Razorfish Touch Framework.

In discussing the fact that the software works only with Windows, Hull reserved some praise for Apple which, he said, “deserves a lot of credit” for bringing touch technology to its current state of sophistication and popularity. “They brought touch technologies to the consumer market with the iPhone and iPod Touch,” Hull said. “They’ve been a big player in the space, getting consumers comfortable with gesture-type interfaces, but they haven’t done a broader technology rollout.”

Along those lines, and pointing to PCs with touchscreens being sold by Dell and HP, Hull predicted a rapid “penetration into the consumer space” of touch applications. “We’re seeing a much higher interaction rate with touch surfaces as opposed to static language,” he said. “Consumers are expecting that now. It’s really pretty amazing to see in the market… Young people expect it.”

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