Big Targets: Child check-in touch screens

I have finally found some time to work on the child check-in module. Got the go-ahead to do it back last January but too many other pressing matters got in the way. Everybody seems to be interested in this.

Yesterday and last night I spent some quality time on programming in the large. What do I mean “in the large?” That’s what touch screen user interfaces are all about: big buttons. Big enough for fat, not so accurate fingers.

Turns out the hardware part is pretty easy. The touch screen just looks like a mouse to the software. Every time you touch you get a click event. That’s all you get too. Unlike an iPhone for example where you can do touch and drag and even do the two finger approach, a typical touch screen for a PC only gives you click. That’s it. There is no such thing as hover or drag. Bottom line, that limitation that makes it easy to program for. The trick is to make every thing BIG enough to be easy to hit. And there is no keyboard or keypad either. So all interaction comes from the touch or “click” events.

Anyway, the first few screens are finished. The check-in process at a kiosk goes like this:

  • You walk up and there is a jumbo keypad like for a telephone.
  • You put your 7 digit telephone number in and touch GO.
  • Even without the area code, odds are likely it will return a unique family record, but if you only put a partial phone number in, it will return a list of the matches.
  • You click your family name.
  • It shows you a list of your children who can be checked in along with the most recent class the child attended if available.
  • For each child who is there that day, you click the box to indicate you are checking them in.
  • Next you touch “print labels”
  • If you need an extra label for any kid (like for a diaper bag), you just click the “extra label” button.
  • You get two labels by default. One to peel and stick on your child. The other to take with you which you will present to pick up your child.
  • The labels will have a randomly selected bear, giraffe, lion, monkey or other animal on them. All labels will have the same animal. That way, even if someone comes up behind you and prints labels for you family again, they will get a different animal so that they cannot present a label to collect your kid. The names and animals have to match.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten at this point. I’ll be putting in other features such as searching by name and address as well. Also, some sort of card scanner as well.

One more note about using touch screens such as this to enhance security. It will only help as long as policies (such as having the label to pick your child up) are enforced. The tools are great, but they are only tools for security. The policies are what really matter.

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