2013.12 | Retail Tech Miscellany Too

w680 (1)Unusual SXSW Tech – SXSW had some crazy technology on display at their 2013 event.  The best thing about events like SXSW is they let imaginations run wild.  My favourite idea was a solution at the portable toilets.  When someone entered the facility, a projector showed a life size traditional washroom stick person either standing or sitting directly on the door along with a timer indicating how long they had been in there.  While this installation is completely crazy, it may actually help with equitable distribution of temporary washroom facilities like this one by helping people queue in the right places.  A similar installation in a change room environment could be a great way to jazz up the experience of trying on new outfits.

Grocery Crowdsourcing – I’ve found that if you are willing to track down the manager at a grocery store and tell them you want a product they don’t have, they will try to get it or you.  Danish Supermarket Superbrugsen makes that even easier by putting a form on their website, where customers can request new local products and suppliers.  This eases the process for consumers to ask for what they want, and it provides free scouting to the buyers.

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No Barcodes Needed – Tokyo bakery Donq has been testing a point of sale system that identifies products without barcodes.  Customers put their items on a white tray, and the tray is placed under a camera that can recognize the shape of the products and quickly and automatically tally the total cost of the items. As imagers get smaller and cheaper and the image recognition improves, we can expect to see more of these sorts of systems. via Wired Magazine – April 2013

Fake Fingers – There is a report that some doctors in Brazil have been beating their time clock by using silicon fingers moulded from colleagues fingers.  Many retailers use biometrics for workforce management and logging into systems, and while it seems unlikely that employees would go to such lengths, it doesn’t hurt to know that these sorts of scams exist.  It also  highlights a reason why fingerprint payment systems like Paytango may have had a hard time getting off the ground if their solution doesn’t address these issues.

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