Microtouch Systems Inc. has developed a shielded touch screen for automated teller machines and other transaction kiosks that keeps transactions performed at these devices private.

According to company officials, when an ATM is equipped with the shield, called Privacy Touch, data on the screen can be seen only by standing directly in front of the terminal. Others standing off to the side are unable to see anything but a blank, dark screen.

Privacy Touch was developed for the newest generation of ATMs, equipped with large touch screens that replace nineinch displays and keypads, said Bob Senior, senior vice president of sales for Microtouch.

Advantages Touted

Touch screens provide several advantages, said Mr. Senior. Since button layouts are controlled by software, button placements can be set and modified without making physical changes to an ATM, he explained. In addition, the larger screens display more data ATMs to distribute a growing array of new products and services, such as mutual funds and annuities.

But the larger screens also make it easier for bystanders to view a transaction, said Mr. Senior. Privacy Touch was designed to prevent that.

* The sensor ensures that transactions are kept confidential and demonstrates that the bank has its customers' security interests at heart," he said.

Solving an ATM Problem

Thomas Leonard, director of multimedia research at Inteco Corp., a Norwalk, Conn.-based consulting firm specializing in kiosks, said the privacy shield very cleverly solves a common ATM problem. ATMs have curved cathode ray tubes that offer a tremendous viewing angle, he explained, so that individuals standing 75 or 80 degrees from the front of the machine can easily see transactions.

The privacy shield, which consists of a thin, plastic film bonded to a glass touch sensor, contains tiny louvers that simulate vertical blinds, preventing the emitted light from the display to be viewed from the side.

Major Benefit Seen

"Improving the security and comfort level for users with Microtouch's privacy-shielded touch screens will be a major benefit to the kiosk market," said Mr. Leonard.

Privacy Touch is being marketed worldwide for use in all types of transaction kiosks, including ATMs, entertainment and gaming machines, security systems, and information systems. Microtouch, based in Methuen, Mass., is offering Privacy Touch retrofit kits in standard 15-inch screen sizes for a list price of $995. The product comes with a five-year warranty.

Microtouch, with offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Tokyo, manufactures touch-screen kits and monitors used in point of sale terminals, kiosks, and other computer-based systems.

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