Out & About: DFW Airport Touch Screen Terminal Assistant

So there I was walking through Terminal D of the DFW Airport close to midnight and all I wanted to do is get to my car so I could go home. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I see this – another 11th Screen (IOOH) example – a large display that looked like it was just inviting a touch. So, of course, I stopped, got my trusty flip cam out, and started to poke around on it.

Let’s dust the scorecard off and put ‘er to the test.

Purpose – This is simply an interactive information kiosk that just happens to be an 80″+ touch screen. It’s designed solely to give travelers all of the essential information they need while they’re in the terminal – places to eat, where to shop, where to get your shoes shined, where the restrooms are, flight information – anything any traveler needs to know. Right at their fingertips. On an 80″+ touch screen. Mission accomplished.

Drama – When does an 80″+ touch screen not create a sense of drama? For the experience, I think it’s a bit like using a bazooka when you need a pea shooter. But the size is the thing that tipped me off to its interactivity. Ironically, I think it’s too well designed because the screen and structure fit right in to everything else in the terminal, so one could easily pass right by it thinking it’s just a big sign. And that’s the biggest problem. There was no clear call-to-action on the screen, nothing really that says, “hey there, why don’t you stop and touch this screen because I’ll give you some great information.” Instead, it’s just a silent 80″+ screen.

Usability – This is a simple experience so it’s usable. Or maybe it’s the other way around? In any case, this was an easy experience to navigate through. It wasn’t deep with content, so after you drill down a couple of times, you’ve hit the end of the path. But the GUI is laid out in a way that allows you to get to other pieces of content in a single press. As far as the functionality goes, I would underwhelmed with this experience. I wanted more and as you can see in the video, I expected it to function different than it actually did. With a large touch screen like this, I expect the functionality to be just as big. Not complex or obnoxious, but in some way commiserate with the size of the screen.

Interactivity – This is a single touch, single user touch screen experience. For a screen this big, they could have planned for multi-user interaction and created a rich experience. As it stands – in its current state – it’s as basic as you can get. The response and its functionality, after you press one of the buttons, is not distinct enough to let you know that something has happened. So, while the screen is responsive to your touch, the action (or seeming lack thereof) makes you think that it doesn’t work.

Information – To me, this succeeds at 1.0 information, but fails miserably at 2.0 information. Yes, it contains all of the information that it promises. But it’s base-level information – the name, the place, and the location. This experience could be made instantly better by integrating LBS (Foursquare, Gowalla) and/or consumer reviews/comments (Yelp?). Our friends at LocaModa would have a field day with this experience.

Personalization – There was no personalization in this experience. I think a social component – check-ins, reviews, comments – could add a welcome level of personalization to this. It would be relatively low user commitment, especially compared to the high level of benefit this sort of information would provide.

Overall, the lack of social integration has been a huge theme in these touch screen experiences over the last year. I am starting to feel like single-source information is not good enough anymore. But these are the things I pay attention to. I’m not sure that the average consumer – or traveler in this case – cares so much about it. Here’s the thing though – when their first impression includes social content, they feel like this is just another extension of what they’re used to when they use their computers or their phones. When it doesn’t include social content, I think we run the risk of not providing the type of value they need (based on their not-yet-completely-understood expectation).

More than that, though – when you’re going to do anything with an 80″+ touch screen, the experience better be 80″+.

One thought on “Out & About: DFW Airport Touch Screen Terminal Assistant

  1. Pingback: 8 April – Touch Screens « thefridayemail

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