2011.12 | WalkIN to a Freezer Door LCD

It used to be that the biggest news on the block was the size of a screen or the power of a processor.  Now there are wild new ideas every time you look in the news.  Here’s are eight items that caught my eye recently.

One of the winners of the of SXSW 2011 Startup Bus Prize this week was WalkIN – a Queueing App for Restaurants on iPhone.  Slightly different spin on something like OpenTable which makes reservations, these guys want to let you know exactly where you are in the queue so that you can walk right into a table.  At the same time, restaurant owners have full visibility to the queue as well.

Translucent Displays mean that customers can potentially access product information and details via a freezer door LCD.  Very interesting, but now I have to get people off the freezer door to get my fishsticks.  Seems like we’re already climbing over each other.  Really cool concept.  I look forward to the creative types who find an ROI for it.

A useful article and video updating us on what the Metro AG team are currently showing in their future store.  Also see more detail in an earlier article and video I posted in 2009 on this store to see previous iterations of new technology in use at the Future Store.   Scanning speed and capability on a mobile has picked up considerably in the almost 3 years since they first tried this.

Google Cars – Check out an excellent article including video of what it is like to ride in a car completely controlled by a computer.  This would certainly solve the problem of texting while driving, but more importantly from a retail perspective, it would allow for a different dynamic on shopping trips.  The integration of technology to cars is certainly accelerating – consider Ford, but also Zipcars and Cars2Go.  Now if they can just get bluetooth to work…

Microsoft Tag shelf talkers for Herbal Essences are in place at 53,000 stores.  This is a great use of mobile scan codes for informational purposes that I’ve always thought would be great.  While on a much smaller scale, this is the same idea.  Some good discussion of 2d barcode for informational purposes.  To be honest, couldn’t they use different colours for Microsoft Tag?  That must be throwing the marketing people off. I prefer the ugly boxes of 2D to the 1980s fuschia and yellows triangles of Microsoft Tag.  No matter which option used, I’ve always thought this would be a great solution for higher end items like washers and dryers, or perhaps DIY advice on kits purchased at Big Box DIY.  In any case, if the retailers don’t get into it, the CPGs and their agencies will do it on their own – organizations like Kokanee beer and their agency grip limited – who recently put 2d barcodes on beer cans with links to interactive maps of trails.

A brief but fascinating article on book pricing strategies that indicates books could go to 99 cents each, as it’s theoretically possible for authors to make more money that way, as the volume will grow as the cost drops. I’m not sure if that will be the case, but it’s a great throwback to business school days in setting prices for maximum return.

For those who think that self-checkout is only for big box environments, this cafeteria in Ohio is returning to the roots of the communal trust based cashbox in the small cafeteria, but with a technological twist (and a security camera).

NEC is discussing new object recognition technology to identify origins of produce – assuming you wanted to know what tree your apple came from.  Have investigated this technology before there are challenges within stores for self-checkout around issues such as identifying organic vs standard produce.  It’s amazing to me that they can use fingerprint like recognition technology to understand the origins of a shipment of apples.   I’d love to see this in action in a lab, but expect the more challenging aspect of a solution of this sort being connecting thousands of stores to a central database so a fruit can be identified.  Most retailers (or suppliers) aren’t signing up for something like that without some sort of ROI.

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