Introducing 3M Touch-Systems
You may know 3M (MMM) from the popular "post-it" note brand, but there is much more to the company then these little multicolored sticky notes. As a large conglomerate, 3M has its hands in numerous technological industries and I would like to introduce you to one of them.
MMM has a division called "3M Touch Systems" that provides high-end touch solution products. It offers such products as:
- 3M MicroTouch System SCT3250EX (15" to 32" displays)
- 3M MicroTouch System SCT3250CX (5.7" to 12.1" displays)
- 3M MicroTouch System SCT7650EX (vandal-prone and rugged applications)
- 3M MicroTouch System MCT3250TX (tactile touch applications).
Each of these products are supported by 3M MicroTouch Electronics and 3M MicroTouch Software.
How Are These Applications Used?
This application is being used as a "Point of Purchase" display in some retail shops. In one paint shop, the business was looking for an interactive display that was easy to use and would give potential customers a "tablet" type experience. Premium picture quality was also a key issue because the paint company needed to accurately showcase its vivid and diverse paint color selection. High definition was important, but just as important was the need for a rugged piece of technology that could handle the heavy traffic and continuous operation that is found in a home retail environment. The premium retail paint manufacturer selected the 18.5-inch 3M Multi-Touch Display M1866PW as the interactive display solution. It was initially tried in about 100 retail stores around the United States and feedback from sales staff and customers was very favorable.
In another application, a large DVD rental company was exploring a way to increase the availability of its DVD rental points. It wanted to put self service kiosks in exterior locations around certain types of stores. This would create a challenge of needing something that can handle high traffic, severe weather, and possibly stand up to attempts at vandalism. It needed a single touch screen solution to address all these issues in order to minimize service requirements that would result in machines having downtime. This would cost money but also take away from an important revenue source. The 3M™ MicroTouch™ System SCT3250EX (see figure 1), based on 3M Surface Capacitive Technology (3M SCT), was selected by the company as the best touch screen solution for its deployment in traditional, as well as harsh exposure, retail environments. The results were favorable and the DVD Company was able to deploy many self-service machines in key locations around the country. Since service calls were minimized with the 3M technology it was also able to increase site-to-site profitability for the company.
These are just two examples of how the "3M Touch Systems" has successfully been used by companies that are looking to create interactive displays or self-service for potential customers. But the potential use for 3M's technology goes far the on this.
Potential Markets for 3M Touch-Systems
The gaming industry is a very large market that spans the globe. Regulated games were first designed for individual use but now games are moving into networking and multi player machining which includes slot machines found on the casino floor, video card gaming that is found on the floor but also on the top of bars, and multi-player games that are found on the floor with one large touch screen but a number of displays for individual players.
Retail applications are even wider and many of us have already had experiences with this technology. The "Point of Sale" experience means an all in one display or computer system that might include: the touch monitor, cash drawer, CPU, scanner, and keyboard all working together. This might include self service at checkout lines as an example, but this technology is used in many more ways that we might not see. Food service uses it in restaurants for employee ordering, the hospitality industry uses it for self check-in and checkout as well as all-inclusive monitors, and I have already mentioned how kiosks have incorporated the technology.
The financial industry has also become more self service oriented and this technology is being used as a gateway to its customers. ATMs all use the technology for stand-alone transactions. Most trading room terminals now use this technology on their LCD monitors as an all-in-one display system. It allows them to move quickly through densely packed menus as they look for their trades. All bank teller desktops used this system.
These are three industry examples of how this technology is being used today and how 3M is able to market but it is used in many more industries that I will not go into detail today including: transportation, entertainment, industrial, and healthcare just to name a few.
3M is a vast global conglomerate working in a number of different industries and arenas. This is an example of one area that most investors did not know the company works in and has done very well. The company pursues its research and development in certain areas and continues to excel. It offers a modest dividend but is one of those companies that an investor can depend on. 3M is well worth looking into to add to one's portfolio as a long-term investment.