'Haptic' Technology Enters ATMs

November 1, 2006

'Haptic' Technology Enters ATMs

Diebold Inc.'s new concept automated teller machine

(ATM), Vectra, dispenses with a prominent design element: the button. Incorporating a design philosophy known as haptics, which is based on the sense of touch, the concept terminal replaces the traditional keypad and function keys with a dial.


Haptic dial technology may be familiar to many consumers. It has been used in dozens of products in the medical, auto, and audio industries from cell phones to game consoles to luxury automobiles and more. In many upgraded BMW automobiles, haptics is used to condense dashboard features. Functions such as audio, climate control, and navigation are integrated into the multimenu dial to reduce clutter on the dash.

Paul Magee, Diebold's director of strategic design and brand integrity, said the technology is better suited for this new application in self-service terminals. 'When used on a self-service terminal vs. an automobile or a cell phone, the dial is the primary input device,' Magee says. 'It's also the principal focus of the user, allowing for increased ease of use.'

The dial enables users to navigate Vectra's menus using their sense of touch. Users operate the dial in much the same way as a combination lock, moving it both clockwise and counterclockwise to make their selections.

Various 'indents' in the dial allow the user to navigate the menus and make their selections based on the 'feel' of the dial. These indents are programmed with advanced software technology and vary from menu to menu. As the user turns the dial, the software program changes the dial's resistance level, helping the user 'tab through' all of the possible menu options.

Users select desired options by depressing the dial. Screen prompts and audible

'clicks' confirm the user's selections.

Danny O'Brien, senior vice president of global product marketing, management, and engineering, says Vectra uses technology that could be the future of the ATM.

While unconventional in today's ATM environment, dial technology could enhance the usability of today's ATMs. Without a keypad or function keys, users need only navigate one input device.

In addition to simplifying the user interface, the dial also makes possible the addition of new menus and options without requiring users to navigate additional screens.


The technology has the potential to make ATMs more accessible to visually impaired users and people who can't read.

Vectra also responds to increasing concerns about ATM security. Use of the dial decreases opportunities for shoulder surfing, a form of theft in which thieves stand close behind ATM users, attempting to catch a glimpse of ATM users' personal identification number (PIN) as they type them into the PIN pad.

Once thieves have translated the PIN, they often resort to other methods of fraud and theft to gain possession of the user's card. Because dial technology eliminates the need to type a PIN into a keypad by incorporating the sense of touch instead of the visual sense, it could decrease or eliminate the opportunity for surfing.