Senses for Retail
By David Dorf on Feb 18, 2013
When we talk about computer innovation, we often talk about how powerful computers have become. But another aspect of computing is the advancements in the man-machine-interface, or the usability of computers. We've gone from punch-cards to GUIs to tablets with each step of the progression getting us closer to the goal, which is transparency. Using computers should be so natural that we don't expend any additional effort to use them.
So I was glad to see that IBM chose the five senses for this year's 5 for 5, five trends that will touch us in five years. From a retail perspective I'm not really interested in the taste and smell senses, although they are important for restaurants and grocers. But the remaining three (touch, sight, and hearing) make up what I like to call Augmented UX.
In the retail industry there have been some interesting examples of user experiences that have been augmented by the senses. For example:
- Self-checkout on your mobile phone.
- Mobile point of service for employees.
- Self-service kiosks in airports.
- Voice-response enabled apps for product searches.
- Mannequins that listen to shoppers then score sentiment.
The increase in computing power allows these complex technologies to move out of the labs and into stores, helping both consumers and employees. How long before I'm asking HAL for advice on buying a new tie?