Category Archives: Out & About

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″+.

Out & About: Kohl’s Kiosk

Remember those boots that I talked about my wife finding at JC Penney, the last time I wrote an Out & About (their “Find More” kiosk)? Well, they really didn’t work out – they weren’t the right boots. So, the past couple of weeks have been “mission-on” again to find the right boots. She/we’ve searched offline and online at virtually every store to find these boots, and finally, at our local Kohl’s, we found what seemed to be a solid substitute – the perfect combination of style, color, versatility, and something that can’t be overlooked insofar as women’s shoes go – price. As was the case at JC Penney, while my wife found boots, I found another example of Interactive Out-of-Home (IOOH) – the Kohl’s Kiosk.

This was some kiosk, if you ask me. They seem to be getting better and better, the more I see. My first impression was positive, but I had to put it up against the scorecard to get the full picture. So, let’s take a look.

Purpose – the common purpose for all of these in-store kiosks is to obviously drive the consumer to purchase. Those are the table stakes – you want to put a kiosk like this in a store – how is going to help the store drive sales? Once that question is answered, I think it’s important to also understand if & how the kiosks are making the shopping experience easier for the consumer and in any way, making the life of the store employee better. It stands to reason that if the kiosk accomplishes those goals, they’re going to drive a fair amount of sales. So, it is here – both in making the consumer’s experience easier and the employee’s life better. These kiosks are a price-checker, in-store catalog, and check-out machine all in one. What else do you need, other than human-to-human contact? This is an element that shouldn’t be overlooked, but I think now more than ever, consumers are more purposeful shoppers vs. casual shoppers. They know what they want and don’t need a lot of help & interaction when they’re in this mindset. All they really need is the Kohl’s Kiosk.

Drama – I think these are fabricated and located just right. They’re not obnoxious in their form, but they’re prominent and noticeable. They don’t block any major traffic areas, but they’re convenient to access via those major traffic areas. In our local Kohl’s, I saw 2 of these kiosks (1 in the shoe department, 1 near the frames), and they were both next to/facing the isle, and whether or not you were looking, you were bound to notice them. The smart thing in their form – they occupy space from floor to ceiling, all of the interaction points are well-placed (touchscreen at eye/torso level and price-scanning/check-out at waist level), and include multiple awareness points (high above the clothes and fixtures, there is a 4-sided “Kohl’s Kiosk” sign and again, at eye level, there is a looping animation with a clear “Touch Screen” indicator/call-to-action). Everything about the form and placement seems to be well thought-out and purposeful.

Usability – blah. I understand that these kiosks need to access the real-time database and as a result, are going to run a little bit slower than I’d like. This is probably not an issue to the average consumer. All in all, considering the vast inventory, it wasn’t bad at all. I just hate seeing the arrow & hourglass. They modified this experience from their website experience, namely to adjust to the touchscreen form. The buttons were big enough and spaced out nicely. The information was presented in a clear, easy-to-use way, and the navigation was intuitive (no different than a good web experience). I also liked the fact that they had a global navigation menu docked to the bottom of the screen that allows the user to access any of the main categories in a click.

Interactivity – this was a single user, single touch experience and for the most part, the touchscreen was responsive. The true value in this kiosk, for me, comes in the form of the other interactive elements, aside from its touchscreen. Consumers have the ability to take any piece of merchandise with a UPC tag and scan it. In return, they’ll see the price, the quantity, and where in-store it’s located. In addition, to take it one step further, if the consumer wants to pay out via credit/debit card straight from the kiosk, they have that ability to do that, too. Important to note – this means that these systems must tie to the store’s POS system, which means there is a level of complexity and integration to the solution, which means this was not an afterthought. Impressive.

Information – A+ on all of the product information and access to the in-store and online merchandise. If you want it at Kohl’s, you can get it through this kiosk. But I’m still not seeing a consistent social integration through these. There are many ways to approach this, from being able to access the brand’s social presences, to allowing the consumer to “like” a particular product, to letting them “share this” to their own social communities after purchasing a product, to consumer/social reviews. I hope to see more of this type of content in future iterations of these in-store experiences.

Personalization – no real personalization to speak of through the kiosks, but they have an incredible opportunity to do something special via a loyalty program or simply through their credit cards. The card-scanning mechanism is already in place. With a couple of back-end hooks, they could make this a unique experience for their most loyal customers.

Hands-down, this is the most versatile in-store kiosk I’ve seen this year. I think it should be a model for retailers who are considering one of these in their store. I anticipate seeing more social integration in the coming year. An interesting thought that hit me this morning – I’ve seen and reviewed experiences like this in stores like Walmart, Target, JC Penney, and Kohl’s – staples in middle-class America shopping. Exposing these consumers to technology like this and getting them comfortable with it not only shows confidence in what they consumer will do/interact with, it is also gives us hope that this could be something that is adopted by the masses sooner rather than later.

Have you seen any of these kiosks? What were your impressions? Would love to hear them!

Out & About: JC Penney’s “Find More” Touch Screen

Shoe shopping on Saturday at the mall with 3 kids – PAINFUL.  I should clarify that – boot shopping for my wife on a Saturday afternoon and taking care of the 3 kids in a crowded section of a crowded store – HEADACHE PAINFUL.  My wife found her boots, and in the end, that’s really all that matters.  What I found, while trying to keep the clan busy in the shoe section, was JC Penney’s “Find More” touch screen kiosk.  Even though it was pretty much hidden from major traffic, it wasn’t hidden from us.  It provided a great source of entertainment, and I even had a chance to try to teach my daughter some of the finer points of usability and interface design.  It was an awesome conversation.

I haven’t used my scorecard in a while, so let’s dust it off and put this bad boy to the test.

Purpose – Just as almost every one of these kiosks I’ve reviewed here, this is designed to sell products.  The kiosk itself does not serve as a self-checkout unit, so if we want to get technical about it, it’s designed to help customers find anything that JC Penney offers and make the shopping experience more convenient.  Appropriately named, “Find More,” I suspect anyone who walks up to this kiosk and sees what it is (title is big and bold at the top) and hears the opening V.O. to “choose from thousands of online only products,” will know that if JC Penney has it, they can find it here.

Drama – It’s big and bold so from that standpoint, it’s quite dramatic.  But it stands out like a big, ugly piece of technology in an inconvenient location in the store.  This is clearly a fine piece of equipment – it looks like it would withstand a tornado, but it is not easy on the eyes.  I also think the placement makes it seem like an afterthought more than a purposeful tool for customers.  Not only is it away from any aisle, it’s tucked in the shoe department, which is crammed in the first place.  The only reason I saw it is because I’m always looking for this sort of thing.  Even if I wasn’t, the only reason I would have seen it is because I was sequestered in this particular section of the store.  Since they only have one unit, I would really suggest putting it next to one of the escalators or store entrances.  At the very least, move it up close to a busy aisle.  It’s too good of a tool to be hidden.  Insofar as the call-to-action goes, once you do see the kiosk, they’ve done a good job with big moving images and type and they support it with audio.  From that standpoint, they did a great job.

Usability – I would say the experience is a mix between an interactive magazine and a website.  They have the real estate to utilize more images than words and they capitalize on it.  But they structure it very much like a website, with the primary, secondary, and tertiary navigation in clear buckets.  I like the way they duplicated the idea of breadcrumbs on the left-hand side of the interface.  It makes navigating deep into this experience easy.  All of the buttons/hot spots are large enough to press with any size finger and I love all of their instructional copy throughout (ie. – “Touch a Category to Continue.”)  They’ve made this as close to browsing a website without duplicating the website experience as you can get, and I suspect that will help them with customer involvement.

Interactivity – This is a single touch experience and the touch screen was responsive.  All of their buttons/hotspots were large enough to get me where I wanted to go and I never had to press anything more than twice.  They’ve even got the nice swipe capability that one expects from anything touch-related thanks to smartphones.  They’ve also worked in a couple of extensions to this experience with the ability to email yourself and print out any of this information right from the kiosk.  I would think these features are table stakes by now, but I’ve seen some experiences that don’t include them.  So, as I would expect from JCP, they’ve clearly thought this through.

Information – As you would expect, they’ve got any and all product information you can imagine.  It’s all hooked to JC Penney’s system, so if this particular store doesn’t have the item you’re looking for, you can see which one does, where it is, and even a way to contact them.  They use large images and audio to attract customers to the kiosk, and throughout the experience, they have nice videos that support particular products (a favorite feature of my daughters).  I was impressed that the experience was ADA accessible.  The one downfall was the absence of social extensions, even a way to get to JC Penney’s FB page and/or Twitter page.  Customer reviews should become table stakes before too long.

Personalization – Other than the email and print options, this experience is the same for everyone.  They could really make this a special experience for a loyalty program.  Everything I said about the opportunities Target has to personalize their kiosks apply here, too.

This is a great example of an IOOH solution, particularly a retail-based kiosk.  I think JC Penney is one of those retailers who get it.  They understand multi-channel and how important it is to engage consumers throughout their shopping and brand journey.  I wasn’t surprised to see this in the store.  I’m looking forward to seeing how this experience evolves because although I think they’re doing a great job with what they have right now, I think there are many easy opportunities that they are missing.

Have any of you seen this kiosk?  Would love to hear your thoughts, too!

Out & About: SI’s Touch Screen at the Detroit Airport

The Detroit airport is littered with digital and interactive (touch) displays, outside of the standard flight boards.  I’ve always wanted to stop and play around with the touch screen displays, but I usually find myself hurrying on both sides of the trip.  Last week, I was with a few of my colleagues in Detroit, so I made us all stop for a minute and capture one of the experiences.  This is one of the touch experiences in the SI store (there are a few Detroit-specific city-search kiosks in the airport, too) and I can tell you, right off the at, this (along with those other touch screen displays that I’ve seen) is not a great experience.

But let’s break it down against the scorecard.

Purpose – I just shake my head at this, but from what I can gather (based on repeated observation), the sole purpose of this experience is extend the SI brand experience.  In theory, this sole purpose is not a bad one, especially inside a store, but to simply display the normal .com website is not extending anything in my book.  If they don’t want to create custom content for this experience, why not simply display their Facebook page or their YouTube channel?  Either of these would drive the normal consumer deeper into their brand and provide a much more compelling experience.  As it is now, these screens are assets that provide little to no value.  I don’t think they deliver on their purpose, much less affect sales.

Drama – In the store, there are two of these screens – one on each side of the store – and they’re consistently hidden by merchandise.  You can tell that the employees of the store don’t even see value in them because they never clear anything out of their way.  (The only reason I ever see them is because I’m looking for things like this).  And to top it off, I’ve never seen both of them working at the same time.  One is constantly black while the other just sits there, displaying the current home page of the day.  No call-to-action.  No animation.  No nothing.

Usability –  Ugh.  You can see for yourself.  It’s virtually unusable.  We interacted with it (if you can call it that) for no more than a minute before it errored out.  And in terms of the actual experience, had the hardware supported the experience, the SI website is so deep, even with a mouse and plenty of time, you’re not assured to have a great experience anyway.

Interactivity –  Website standards are not digital signage standards.  To think that someone, even with small fingers/hands, could navigate a standard website experience on a touchscreen, without any modifications, is a stretch.  Add a non-responsive touch screen monitor to the mix and you have one big headache.

Information – See  Lots of content to interact with.  Ask yourself, if you’re a traveler, coming into or flying out of Detroit, would you want to interact with a website on a touch screen?  Would you have that much time?  I think not.  You wouldn’t even want to interact with the entire website on your mobile phone.  There’s an app for that.

Personalization – Um, no.

These kinds of experiences are exactly the kinds of things that do not help get people excited about digital/interactive signage.  Black screens.  Screens that don’t react to touch.  Screens that simply show websites.  This is not good practice.

Fortunately for them (if “they” even see value in these screens), they already have the screens in place.  They just need a few minds in the room to think of possible content executions.  There are many things they could do, even if they needed to ditch the “touch” (LBS anyone?), that would actually get them closer to achieving their purpose.

Out & About: DFW Airport’s Touch Screen

I recently travelled to/from Detroit and saw various IOOH experiences in both airports (Detroit & DFW).  I’m always trying to catch standby on earlier flights out of Detroit so I have yet to stop and capture those IOOH experiences.  I’ve seen two different ones there and every time I’ve gone by each of them (since last October), no one is interacting with them.  I keep telling myself that next time I’m here, I’m going to capture them.  Next time.

When I got back to Dallas, I passed these touchscreen experiences in the baggage claim area.  I’ve passed these thousands of times and just like Detroit, I haven’t ever seen anyone interact with them.  So I decided this night, I would give them a run and see what they had to offer.

Some good, some bad.  Let’s break it down.

Purpose – clearly, the purpose is to help travelers find “things to do” in the DFW area – Accomodations, Dining, Transportation, Shopping, and City Attractions.  I think this is a good idea, but I wish each category had more content.  From the standpoint of accomplishing its purpose, I’d say it halfway did because it shows me things to do, but it doesn’t show me everything I can do.  It suffers from a lack of deep content.

Drama – well, as you can see by the entire, wall-length unit, there’s no missing the fact that this is the place to find information about the area.  The screens within the unit get lost, but I do like the fact that there is a big, static map.  That, in and of itself, could attract visitors, then they’d see the touchscreen.  Once they see that, even though it’s up in the top corner, there’s a blinking red call-to-action enticing (doesn’t it scream enticing) people to “Select a Category.”

Usability – this is a web-based experience and the paths throughout the experience were linear.  There is only one way to go until you dead-end and even then, you only have a few options (Learn More, Print, etc..).  It’s simple.  This type of experience is good for the everyday visitor/user.  If anyone ever interacted with this thing, I have to believe they could navigate where they wanted to go pretty easily.

Interactivity – this was touch-based only (single-touch) and was very responsive.  Once I got into the experience, I wish everything (like the map) was “clickable” but for the most part, this reacted exactly as I would expect.

Information – this is where I feel the experience really fell down.  If this is to enable visitors to find the things to do in DF, it doesn’t completely deliver.  It certainly doesn’t deliver on the best things to do in DFW (which would be a great category).  As you can see, the first hotel area that I selected didn’t have any listings.  This isn’t right.  I’m not completely familiar with airport/city partnerships, but the DFW metropolitan area has multiple websites from which to pull the information for this experience – any of them would make this experience richer than it is.  The one nice surprise was on one of the “Transportation” printouts.  Using this kiosk, I am able to redeem the printout for $2.00 off on my return trip.  In theory, this is a good way to get repeat service, but they are missing a huge opportunity for business by not advertising this deal in this experience.  I wouldn’t have known that I could get this discount if I didn’t randomly select this particular path.  (It would also be a great way to get people to interact with the entire experience – other companies could offer the same thing.)

Personalization – this discount ticket was the extent of personalization in this experience.  It’s a step in the right direction, but as a user, if I don’t know that this offer is waiting for me, I’m likely not going to ever see it.

As a bonus, I stopped by a kiosk at the end of the “Welcome to DFW” unit to see what it had to offer, and as you can see, it’s different content.  I question whether or not they need to be different or if they could just be lumped into the same experience.  From an experience standpoint, it could easily be integrated and not hamper the current experience.

All told, interactive touchscreens with this sort of information in airports are a great idea.  But the execution here is lacking on a number of fronts.  Pull me to it, attract me, give me an impression of the city by this experience, and make me want to find out this sort of information through this channel vs. something like my mobile phone.  Yes?

Out & About: Target’s Gaming Touch Screen

I heard Chris Borek from Target speak at the Digital Signage Expo earlier this year and walked away from it impressed with their approach to serving customers – “it’s about interacting with the customer on their (the customer’s) terms, on their schedule.  It’s not about being there all the time, it’s about being there when they need it.”  So, I was not surprised when, over the weekend, I saw this touchscreen in the middle of their electronics/gaming section.  Apparently, they’re planning a full chain roll-out with these babies.

Let’s put her to the test and see how she does.

Purpose – They are here to sell games.  They’re providing this solution to make it easier for you to a) search for the game you want b) search for the game you don’t know you want c) find the most convenient store for you to get it at and d) get the information in the form you want.  This experience delivers on all fronts.  If I were looking for a game, I would go straight to this touchscreen vs. a store employee, but that’s just me.  If I was intimidated by this touchscreen and wanted the comfort of a store employee, that employee could walk me straight to this and step through the experience with me (hopefully, that’s what they’re trained to do.)  In that regard, it even levels the playing field for all of those employees – now they don’t need to know about every game in the store.  The technology serves that purpose and allows the employee to focus on the customer.

Drama – As you can see, this touchscreen was built into the display unit and it all looks very nice.  You can tell they spent a lot of time thinking this through and designing the entire unit, not just the touchscreen.  I don’t know how they could have done a better job with placement, although it would have been much more noticeable if it were right on the main aisle.  (As it is, it’s hidden behind the display unit on the main aisle.)  Once I noticed it, the subtle animation and large text with prominent call-to-action made me want to interact with it and set my expectations on exactly what I needed to do.  In my opinion, they made a good decision with the vertical monitor – it creates more of a dramatic impact than the same size horizontal monitor and for this type of information, I think it makes for a better use of space.

Usability – The interface was set up very much like a web interface.  In some respects, it mirrors Target’s online experience, certainly the way in which the content was bucketed.  I didn’t have a problem finding the information I wanted.  In some cases, there were multiple ways to get to the same content, which I think is good.  And regardless of where I was in the experience, I could always “Go Back” Home and “Notify an Employee.”  It’s great (and smart) to have those anchors.  I think it makes the user feel comfortable that they can always get the information that they ultimately want, even if it isn’t through this touchscreen experience.

Interactivity – This experience was touch-based with email & mobile integration.

The screen was responsive to touch and aside from the internet connection (which I suspect is needed to utilize their web content management system), I thought the experience itself was fluid and smooth.  The email & text component was simple and provided only the information I needed in either of those channels.

Information – All games, all systems, all accessories, all the time.  The content here is hooked into Target’s chain-wide inventory, so if the store that you’re in doesn’t have what you’re looking for, you can locate it at the stores closest to you.  In addition to the product information, they worked in a social component via user reviews.  That said, I couldn’t find any user reviews in the games that I searched (which I think can be easily remedied with some seeded content), but it might have just been by chance that those specific games didn’t have reviews.  This application didn’t seem to have any un-needed information and it didn’t seem to lack any either.  Everything in here seemed purposeful.

Personalization – There wasn’t much personalization in this experience, but there was more than in the touchscreens that I’ve previously featured.  The email and mobile component was a nice, personal touch and a step in the right direction to make the experience personal.  I think they have the opportunity to build user’s profiles, recommend content based on previous purchases, incorporate a loyalty-type program – all might not be appropriate for the everyday consumer, but would certainly help Target compete with stores like GameStop with the hardcore gamers.

All in all, this was a very good, efficient application.  One of the best I’ve seen, and certainly the best touchscreen that I’ve featured here.  Why other game stores and movie stores (like Blockbuster) and music stores don’t do this more, I just don’t understand, especially if they’ve already got a good system online.  I think anyone who’s considering building/updating a retail-based interactive application should go to their nearest Target and play around with this for a little while – you’ll learn alot.

Out & About: Old Navy’s Interactive Floor

I’m a sucker for cheap clothes, especially for the kids!  So it was that my wife and I found ourselves in Old Navy, first to do a quick walk through but inevitably got sucked in for about an hour worth of shopping.  (I didn’t find anything for me, but we found great deals for everyone else in the family.)  As we were looking through the kids section, I stumbled (literally) upon this interactive floor projection.

This is the first time I’ve reviewed a gesture-only-based experience, so let’s see how she does.

Purpose – From what I saw, the main purpose of this experience was to keep kids occupied.  I’ve seen these “in a box solutions” (I think this one is from our friends at GestureTek) before and I think they’re a good idea, but they sure are small (not the box, the interactive “play” area.)  While I was in the store, I did see a few kids playing with it, but not for very long.  Maybe this is a function of content, maybe a function of placement (I’ll get to both later).  I do feel like Old Navy can do more with this, even in terms of advertising, even though the majority of eyeballs seeing it are going to be young kids.  They can certainly draw attention to the cool, new clothes that they’re trying to sell.  The system is set up to be highly interactive, so this sort of content can be worked right into the existing game’s architecture, or even new games.  Instead of kicking around some soccer balls, kick around some polos and cargos.  Or better yet, set up a memory-type game with all of the inventory, and if the kid wins, they win some sort of discount.  Make it flashy and a bit obnoxious so they’ll tell their parents and get them involved.  There’s just got to be more to it than keeping the kids occupied.

Drama – This thing was tucked away under a table in the back of the store.  Granted, the kid’s section was in the back of the store, but I’m not kidding when I say I stumbled upon it.  I don’t know if I would have ever seen it if I wasn’t looking for special sizes behind all of the display clothes that they put in the front of each of the shelves.  These little boxes are a bit awkward, so I understand the need to hide it, but I don’t think placement behind a table does it the type of justice it needs (or maybe it does for this purpose?).  At least put it where the adults can plainly see it so they can push their kids in that direction, just to keep them occupied!

Usability – These floor-based, gesture experiences are hard in this category, even if the experience is simple.  Could I use this?  Yes.  Did I get lost in the experience?  No.  I wish I would have known how long the experience loop was, but I don’t know that it would have kept me there longer.  It didn’t hamper the experience.  The interesting thing about an experience like this – one with no real purpose – the inability to properly use it doesn’t have a huge impact.

Interactivity – You can see by the video, the ball didn’t really do what I wanted it to do.  Maybe I want exact and kids could care less.  It was responsive, just not precise.  Now, when there was no game-play-like interaction (ie – the Old Navy logo), the system reacted just fine.  It produced the ripples that are so fun to produce and I was satisfied.

Information – I just think Old navy could do so much more with this if they wanted to.  It almost seemed like they got everything out of the box, took the most popular games, plugged their logo in, and haven’t paid attention to it since.  I could be way off base, but nothing about the experience seemed purposeful.  They could easily incorporate any of their sales/promotion items, have a little fun with it, get the adults involved to by incorporating some sort of discount or prize.  My thought is that if you’re going to do something like this, use it to benefit your end goal.  There are ways they could use this to drive sales for sure.

Personalization – None.  It would be really cool if this system could hook into the POS system somehow and take information given by the user on the floor to at least synch up with the associates behind the counter.  That’s more of a crazy idea, but integrating with mobile is less crazy and something that makes a lot of sense.  If older kids could text something in to be projected and ultimately “played” with or were able to control elements of games with their mobile phone and their feet – that would be cool.

I was happy to see one of these in an environment where it was actually being used.  I think the “gesture-based-projection/interaction-in-a-box is a fantastic idea, but clearly something that needs to be thought through to have a great impact.

As always, let me know your thoughts on this and anything else.  I’d love to hear from you.

Out & About: Coke’s Interactive Kiosk

I didn’t run into the Happiness Machine, but I ran into the next best thing – Coke’s interactive (via touch screen) vending machine.  A true 11th Screen kiosk.  Say what you will about Coke as a product – as a brand, I think they are doing many things right.  They do a good job across platforms, they’re really good at social, and as most recently evidenced by their Happiness Machine, they’re pushing IOOH, and innovation.  I saw this 3-sided kiosk in a mall – 2 of the sides consisted of branding (from other advertisers) and then, this side, was one big interactive display.

I think this scorecard review is going to be pretty straight-forward.

Purpose – The purpose here is clear – sell drinks.  I don’t know why more and more products like these don’t do what Coke has done here.  You’re going to have vending machines.  People already buy from them.  Why not maximize that effort by creating something that can immerse consumers deeper into the brand and can support other advertisements?  (I assume cost is one of the biggest barriers.)  With this framework, Coke can advertise their own products, other advertiser’s products, or even the mall.

Drama – You can see for yourself – you can’t miss this thing.  I think the one thing working against it, just as any installation like this, is the fact that digital (non-interactive) posters are commonplace throughout malls today.  Someone could see this and just expect for it not to be interactive.  I think they’ve done a good job here of utilizing the space – the primary real estate for the products and the secondary real estate for ads.  Something moves on the screen at all times, so it stands a real good chance of stopping people.

Usability – There were two things I could do besides purchasing.  1) Select one of the drinks and 2) scroll through them.  The experience wasn’t deep at all.  Simple.  But just right.  My mom could operate this without any trouble.

Interactivity – This was a single-touch touch screen and not much different than a “normal” vending machine.  The screen was responsive to touch (even though it might not look like it at the beginning of the video – I sometimes have a hard time operating the camera and touching at the same time) and I thought it was executed very well.  I like how they also included a mobile component for one of their products (Sprite) whereby the user could text in a short code, made aware by this screen, to receive updates and rewards.  Although this particular component doesn’t connect offline with online, they’re smart to include it if they have it, particularly in a dynamic experience like this.

Information – High quality video, animation, stills.  They told the Coke (and products) stories with the ads, not the interactive component.  Every piece of content in here is highly produced which is necessary when displayed on something this big.  I thought they did a good job of incorporating the right content, not only type of content, but length of content.  And they ran all of the ads on a loop.  This was all very purposeful and run by someone who knew the space and what they were doing.

Personalization – No real personalization beyond my single-touch, single-user experience.  The mobile component brought a level of personalization in the fact that it extends the experience onto a consumer’s mobile phone, which is very personal.  As far as the actual kiosk goes, though, there was really no need for my experience to be personalized.  (Now, in the future, when this experience is smart enough to know that I like Coke and not Diet Coke, not only can it serve me the right ads, but it can also present me with the right options instead of everything in the lineup.  Then, it’d be personalized.)

All in all, I was really happy to see this.  Hopefully cost won’t be as big of a barrier in the future as it might be now and we’ll see these more and more.  It sure does make a lot of sense.

Have any of you seen any of these?  Not only for Coke but other brands?  Probably the most notable is Best Buy’s interactive vending machines, but this is the first I’ve seen of a drink maker.  If so, shoot them my way.  I’d love to learn about them.

Out & About: Whirlpool’s Washer/Dryer Touchscreen

I had Daddy’s Day Out this weekend, so the kids and I journeyed to Lowe’s to check out some tile for a back-portch-tiling-project.  I think that home improvement stores like this are ripe with interactive out-of-home opportunities, with all the DIY’ers and supplies and possibilities…there are only so many employees walking around who have expertise in your desired improvement area.  Here, technology could help bridge the gap and influence buying decisions in a sound, effective way.  I’ve played around with the “pick-your-paint” program on the computer in the paint section, but I haven’t seen anything else on the interactive front.  Until now.  Enter Whirlpool’s washer/dryer attempt at interactivity via this touchscreen (Yes, that is one of my sons saying “dad” over and over again – disregard that.):

So, let’s put it up against the scorecard and see how she does.

Purpose – as with any of these installations in retail environments, the purpose is to sell products and a clear way to sell products is to highlight all of the its benefits.  This particular touchscreen solution highlights clear benefits of the washer and dryer and ended up driving me deeper into the brand.  But quite honestly, I left more confused than educated.  It looked cool, but it really didn’t give me the information I wanted.  I believe products like washers and dryers need comparisons (against like products) to really make the most informed buying decision.  Without the help of a sales associate, I have no idea how this product rates against the others.  I only know that this is the best product on the floor, which I assumed of course, given that it was the only one that got special space-age, touchscreen love.

Drama – if I weren’t looking for it, I would have easily missed it.  And by “it,” I mean anything that looks touchable and interactable via touchscreen, because, well, that’s what I do.  If I were to watch 5 random people stop by this washer/dryer, I guarantee at least half would not know they could interact with the screen.  This small, little screen that hung over the washer/dryer.  Physical placement on the floor didn’t help matters either, because two washer/dryers over, there was a non-interactive, digital screen touting how great that one was.  I assumed since I couldn’t touch the other one that I couldn’t touch this one, but low and behold, I was wrong.  After realizing that this one was interactive, I thought the use of video avatars and the spacey animations were catchy, although I can’t find whether or not they’re on brand.  I have a feeling they were just catchy elements that they used to theme the experience.  For me, it seemed out of left field and after interacting with it, I found those elements distracting.

Usability – maybe it was my kids distracting me, but I had no idea where to begin and where to end in this experience.  While the content seemed to be bucketed in a logical manner, the content itself seemed very nebulous.  Once I got into one of the buckets of information, I didn’t know how much I could experience.  When I felt like each piece of content was “finished,” it wasn’t, and when when I wanted it to be finished, it kept going.  The spacey animations worked into the actual functionality of the experience, too, and it just made it more difficult to me than I felt like it needed to be.  I walked away from the experience thinking that they did this just to be cool.  And while I appreciate that, I don’t know how useful it really is to the intended audience.

Interactivity – everything was based on touch in this experience.  The screen itself was fairly responsive, but I think the content in the application slowed everything down, including responsiveness.  The content was probably a processor suck with rich graphics, video, and spacey animations.  As you can see in the demo, I pressed a couple of times without any immediate response.  I also didn’t know what all was “hot” (pressable) and not.

Information – the struggle with any “advertisement” in this open day and age is how in-your-face it is.  Brands are being recognized more and more by providing utility to consumers.  How useful is the information brought to me by brand X?  Does it make my life easier?  Is it helping me out?  Questions like this are dictating purchasing decisions.  Brands are getting credit without stuffing advertisements down your face.  Here, as a consumer, I recognized what Whirlpool is trying to do.  They’re trying to influence my purchasing decision.  But instead of telling me how great this product is, I want to know how it compares to similar products.  A comparison tool would be useful to me.  It would help my decision-making.  I appreciated “consumer reviews” in this experience, but I can’t tell whether they come from real people or from actors.  The production of the piece makes it seem like actors, which in turn, takes credibility away from what they’re saying.  If it were up to me, I would have gone a much simpler route (still maintaining quality production value) with real people and real problems and real comparisons.  I think that in-store experiences like this are going to hinge on reviews, thus making the experience inherently social, so brands will have to know what consumers are saying about them before-hand, good or bad.  This would just help frame how to present the content.  If Whirlpool thinks these are the best products ever and their audiences either disagree or don’t know about them, then those two insights should drive the content in the experience (and they might have – in fairness, I don’t know what drove their decisions to make any part of this experience.)  I checked out their Facebook page and they’re engaging with their fans on a customer-service basis only.  Sentiment seems to be mixed among the fraction of the community of 2,000+ who engages with them.  If I’m sitting in the room with the CMO, I’m telling him to get his social in order before embarking on an interactive out-of-home experience.  At least, set a strategy for social so you know how it plays into the entire brand experience, this included.

Personalization – this is a single-touch, single-user experience so there is a sense of personalization that comes along with this type of experience.  Beyond that, the experience had no other level of personalization.  This is a great opportunity for the brand to offer up some sort of discount to the user who interacts, either from the touchscreen itself or to the user’s mobile phone.  If, after seeing the information here, I wanted to buy one of these products, I should have a little incentive.  My personal golden ticket.

I’ve taken the grades out of this scorecard.  I just don’t think I have enough information to make responsible judgements.  That said, I wished for more in this experience.  I would not have made a decision to buy this product based on this experience, and if you go back to the original purpose that I believe drove this solution, it failed.  I’d love to see metrics on this and if it really impacted the bottom line.

I can’t say enough about creating toward objectives.  If the objective is to create awareness, go ahead, get crazy, you can do wild things if you want.  If the objective is to convert shoppers into buyers, laser-focus in on the best way to do that in today’s ecosystem-driven world.

Out & About: Westin Hotel Guest Touch Screen

My team and I stayed at a brand-new Westin hotel in Austin while we were down there for SXSW.  On the first morning, waiting for some team members (entirely too early mind you), I was happy to see a large touch screen in the guest-lobby.  So, I had to play with it.  The experience that I captured by myself was not an enjoyable one to view.  A couple days later, I recruited my colleague, Herb Sawyer, to walk through the experience for me.

So, let’s stack it up against the scorecard.

Purpose – From the looks of it, the primary purpose is utility.  One can search flights, news, weather, goings-on in the surrounding areas, even stocks if you’re so inclined.  I suppose the Westin wanted to provide a centralized, convenient location for travel information, more than anything.  Perhaps it’s designed to serve as an interactive concierge?  If so, it’s located at the other end of the lobby from the actual concierge desk.  So, it doesn’t really cater to guests looking for that information. 

More than that, I guess my question would be, as Herb and I get into at the end of the video, what does this enable the user to do here that they would not be able to do on their mobile phone?  There is no special content, aside from the local attractions & dining, that could not be found in a mobile application.  And even with apps like Yelp, I could find that on my phone.  I’m really trying to find the purpose here, but I’m left scratching my head.

11th Screen Score:  FAIL

Drama – If I weren’t always on the lookout for this sort of thing, I would have easily missed it every time I was in the lobby.  And I was in the lobby at least 10 times.  The actual placement isn’t as bad as the orientation.  It is depressed inside a large wooden casing on a table.  It just looks like a big box sitting on a table.  The screen is tilted so far down that it is almost flat, like a table-top.  If this were oriented a little differently, so the guests could at least see a touch screen that they could interact with, it might elicit more interaction.  As it was, no one was interacting with it.

11th Screen Score:  FAIL

Usability – Navigation was fine.  It was laid out in a similar fashion as a traditional website with tabbed navigation.  I did not like the fact that on the HOME screen, the large modules in the main section of the screen were not clickable.  Other things like non-scrollable flight information and inconsistent map views didn’t exactly enhance the experience.  While it was usable, it didn’t seem to be designed by web experts, certainly not touch screen experts.  It did pass the mom test, though.  I think it would have anyway.

11th Screen Score:  BARELY PASS

Interactivity – This experience is entirely touch-based.  The screen responded well to touch.  Buttons and scroll bars were large.  I could essentially do anything I wanted in 1 touch.  In this sense, it didn’t utilize the technology for what it’s capable of.  Give me multi-touch, at least.

11th Screen Score:  BARELY PASS

Information – Here’s what the experience includes:

Time – I can get this on my watch or on my phone.  If I don’t have either, look no further than here.  It takes up 1/4 of the screen throughout the entire experience.  They could have hidden it so it’s easily accessible while allowing more room on the screen for other, more important information.      

News (and scroll) – the irony here is that the hotel gives away free copies of USA Today on every floor.  Here, I only get the headline and byline.  I’d love some photos, at least.

Weather – as Herb says, it would be great to see weather where I’m going.  Much more important than where I’m staying.

Dining – the only dining/restaurant option this serves up is the restaurant in the hotel.  From here, I can see the menu and make a reservation.  Both of which are handy. 

Attractions & Events – there are a number of sub-sections in each one of these categories that could be useful for out-of-towners.  They each include various views of maps, which can be helpful and confusing at the same time.

Stocks – as Herb says, is this really needed?

Overall, the amount of unused space really reflects negatively on the brand.  No photos, no videos.  Just white space.  Even if I thought that interacting with this touch screen was more convenient than my phone, all of this information, through apps on my phone, looks better and functions better.

11th Screen Score:  FAIL

Personalization – If I went back next week or next month, I’m pretty sure I’d get the same exact experience.  It would be great if this were tied into their rewards program and it had some sort of bar code reader/scanner so every time I scanned my rewards card, I could get tailored content around my history and preferences.  Then, all of a sudden, this is an entirely different experience and one that is hard to duplicate on my phone.

11th Screen Score:  FAIL

I like the concept of these virtual information/concierge experiences in hotels.  To me, it makes a lot of sense.  But it must be planned and executed in a way that makes it useful instead of a novelty.  The novelties are never sustainable.  And we need sustainable solutions in this industry if we want it to grow.

What do you think?  Have you seen any useful experiences like this in hotels that you have stayed in?