I’m a little bit late to the game because this particular solution has been out for quite some time. It’s worth more attention, though, albeit not-so-timely. These boys know how to do it. True 11th screen material. They built the world’s biggest multi-touch, multi-user wall at a race track complex in Germany.
I’ve developed a guide that helps me look at solutions like this – 11th Screen solutions, if you will – in a consistent manner. It’s not a measurement tool, by any means. It’s not designed as a magic formula to produce quantitative results. It’s simply designed to help me look for the same components across all kinds of IOOH (11th Screen) solutions. It’s my attempt at leveling the playing field in an area where the field is far from level. For each “criteria,” I simply give a PASS or FAIL.
So here, we’ll use the Ring Wall to inaugurate the official 11th Screen perspective. Understand that I have not interacted with the wall in person. I’ve only watched demonstrations. My comments about the wall are made entirely from observation.
Purpose – What is the purpose of the solution? Is it to drive awareness? Acquisition? Loyalty? What is the brand trying to accomplish in this medium?
In my mind, this is the most important question to ask. It should define the exact solution. Brands can do one thing through a billboard and something entirely different through a kiosk. More often than not, I believe that brands utilize the OOH medium as an awareness-only medium. I think there is always an opportunity to drive consumers deeper into the brand, even from the biggest “awareness-driven” installation – a standard billboard.
Here, the Ring Wall looks like one big awareness machine. It enables many users to experience information, but it’s the same information for every user. There is no “deep dive” for data capture, personalization, or even an extended experience.
11th Screen Score: If the objective was awareness, I don’t know how they could have done any better. Taking that assumption into account, they PASS.
Drama – Does the solution make a big impact on the user? Does it make them stop and interact?
Since everything we’re talking about is interacted with in the physical spaces around us, it must have some drama to it to entice people to interact. This can be accomplished a number of ways – the physical installation, its movement, its content and its call-to-action.
The Ring Wall has an immense amount of drama. First of all, it’s huge, the largest of its kind. Second, gesture-based technology allows content to move with the user as they walk by, engaging them without even a touch. I think where it falls short, if any place, is providing the user a clear call-to-action. It might seem simple to have a big “Touch Me” call-to-action rolling throughout, but I think intimidation is still a big barrier with acceptance and use of most touch screen installations. The clearer you can be with the action you want the user to take, the more success you should have at breaking down that barrier.
11th Screen Score: I don’t know how much more dramatic one can get. PASS.
Usability – Can the user navigate through the experience with ease? Are the paths to information intuitive? There’s also an element of functions, too, but I think that is much more subjective. Do the functions enhance the user experience?
The biggest killer to any touch screen installation, once the user starts interacting with it, is not knowing what to do and/or how to get to the desired information. It’s critically important that foundational elements like content grouping(s) and navigation hierarchy are intuitive. Herein lies the challenge though. Old website standards are most often not applicable because interaction in this medium is so open, non-linear, and tactile. Navigating a website with a mouse on a computer is different from navigating a website with your finger on a touch screen. It’s vital to understand the audience when concepting and creating an experience like this. You and I might be able to walk up to this wall and use it effectively, but would our mom or dad?
Here, the Ring Wall’s user interface seems to be intuitive. The navigation looks to be consistent with a standard website homepage (primary navigation at the top, eye level with 3 callouts below the main content area) and as a result, clear. Also, the user has multiple ways to navigate in the experience. They can use the scroll wheel above the gallery to navigate as well as the FORWARD/BACK arrows on the main images. It doesn’t hurt that every ‘panel’ displays the same UI, too. And the functions look fluid and cool :)
11th Screen Score: It’s hard to give a definitive score in this category without touching it and using it myself. From the interactions I can observe, it looks to have a good user experience, thus PASS.
Interactivity – How does the user interact with it? Is it gesture-based? Is it touch-based? Can the user interact with it through any other enabling technology?
This consideration is really an extension of Usability. But whereas the Usability consideration focuses more on how the content experience is laid out, the Interactivity consideration focuses on how much effort is required to interact with the physical experience. If it’s gesture-based, how responsive is it based on the user’s interaction? If it’s touch-based, how responsive is it based on the user’s touch? If it requires an enabling technology, how easy, instant and accurate is it based on the user’s actions? This is the second biggest killer to any touch screen installation. If it doesn’t respond to the user’s touch, the user will either give up or get upset. Either way, they’re not going to interact with it anymore. (And they might tell their friends not to interact with it. And their friends might tell their friends and….anyway, this is food for another post.)
The Ring Wall is both gesture-based and touch-based. When the user walks by, the wall seems responsive. When the user touches the screen, it also seems responsive.
11th Screen Score: Again, it’s hard to give a definitive score in this category without touching it and using it myself. From everything I can see, PASS.
Information – How much and what kind of content is available for the user to interact with?
A system like this is set up to be an endless well of content. I think this is good as long as the user isn’t overwhelmed with that content, meaning they don’t have to see everything “behind the curtain.” Let them know what they’re going to expect and how to get there and leave the rest to them. Drive them deeper into the experience instead of away from the experience. A critical element of this is the type of content in the experience. The Ring Wall includes a good combination of copy and rich multimedia content (images & video). And the video looks like it plays fluidly.
11th Screen Score: There looks to be a deep well of information for the user to interact with in one experience. PASS.
Personalization – What level of personalization does the experience provide?
In my observations over the past few years, this is the one area that I am the most underwhelmed with. The opportunity that we have in this medium, and really the opportunity that I feel has been the least capitalized on, is the level of personalization to the experience. On the surface, any multi-user touch screen includes a level of personalization that allows each user to have their own, unique experience. But on a deeper level, the content is the same for every user. The opportunity that I see is for all of that content to be customized for each user. Simply put – everyone sees what they want to see, even if they don’t know what it is they want to see. And they don’t see the stuff that doesn’t matter to them. This level of personalization requires some level of data gathering from the user, which is always touchy, but can enhance an experience greatly.
Perhaps another way to look at this is ‘does it account for various stages in the relationship process?’ Does it accommodate someone that is interacting for the 1st time? Or the 3rd time? Or the 30th time?
Here, the Ring Wall doesn’t seem to have any personalization built into the experience. It treats everyone the same, whether they are interacting with it for the 1st time or the 30th time. There is an opportunity to personalize each experience, though – be it through a couple of “preference” questions or a higher level of technology like RFID, each user could have an experience most suitable for them.
11th Screen Score: FAIL.
Overall, I just think this is awesome. Major kudos have to be handed out, not only to the development team, but to the clients themselves. They get it. To take the leap on technology like this (both hardware and software) is remarkable, not to mention that the decision was made a year and a half ago, well before the idea of DOOH and/or IOOH was halfway mature, certainly on this scale. It’s combinations like this, with both forward-thinking marketers and clients, that are going to create a new level of interacting with each other and our physical spaces around us that is the norm instead of a novelty.
What do you think of this thing? By “thing,” I really mean the wall, but I’d love to know your thoughts on the scorecard, too. Do you feel like anything needs to be shaped differently on it? Added to it? Just like the space we’re in, I expect it to evolve as we look at other solutions. Comments gladly accepted.