Thursday, December 18, 2008

User study: bar-code vs. epc-rfid vs. nfc

If you are an application designer concerned about which interaction modality (barcode/epc/nfc) consumers could favor most, have a look at this study we've just conducted lately:

Monday, December 15, 2008

From devices to services

It has been propagated for long: smart things, disappearing computers, ubiquitous computing, wearable computing, pervasive computing, ambient intelligence, internet of things - various terms viewing from different the very same phenomenon - things are now longer just thingsm but have virtual counterparts that expand their original capabilities.
It has been a nice vision, which is becoming deployed now: apple has come up with iTunes, originally only selling music, but today also selling software, Google has started something similar with Android, and Nokia has started promoting their Ovi. The economist has come up with two nice articles discussing this phenomenon in greater detail.

Illustration by Claudio Munoz, The Economist

[1] Gadgets, Thinking inside the box - There is more to portable electronic gadgets than just fancy hardware, Dec 4th 2008, From The Economist print edition

[2]Nokia, Ovi go again - The world’s biggest handset-maker makes a new push into mobile services, Dec 4th 2008, From The Economist print edition

Friday, December 12, 2008

Real world meets virtual world

Today when I watching my colleague Thorsten playing with our Wii station I suddenly could observe how real-world experience can interplay with virtual feedback:

So what`s really the difference between doing sports and playing a computer game triggered through the very physical interactio? Besides the fascination about something new, it`s certainly safety, fun, and the possibility of trying something new. Real boxers will laugh about WII, but newbies get motivated to try movements they would have never done otherwise [1]. Assuming that the virtual experience might become better, the virtual characters on WII still look clumsy to me, the difference between boxing and Wii might become obsolete. Does that mean once we can acquire the same amount of information by our senses stemming from feedback systems as in the real-world, real-world activity and simulated activities in virtual worlds become the same? Does the equation total feedback = physical activity hold? What (apart from nutrition and excretion) does still stop us from moving our lives completely to virtual worlds where we can strip off our physical limitations?
At least it looks really funny watching people being engaged in virtual looks like plain activity without context [2] - and we are getting closer to the The Lawnmower Man:

[1] Mhurchu, C.N., et al., Couch potatoes to jumping beans: A pilot study of the effect of active video games on physical activity in children. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 2008.
[2] Mayra F. 2007. The Contextual Game Experience: On the Socio-Cultural Contexts for Meaning in Digital Play. DIGRA 2007 Situated Play Conference Proceedings

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Visiting the Metro Future Store in Tönisvorst

As part of the RFID courses I have been giving together with Matthias Lampe for the European EPC Competence Center (EECC) for some years now I finally had the chance to visit Metro's new Future Store in Tönisvorst.
First of all, it's a brand new hypermarket huge in size with wide alleys which makes the market quite appealing even without the 'future' label.
What attracts media and what probably is most appealing are a couple of gadgets:

  • a digital advertising column
    built of a rotating line of led's

  • a self-checkout for customer's
    reading the barcode with their
    mobile phones (as nowhere
    mentioned: which by the way
    was developed
    by Robert Adelmann of ETH)

  • download of the 'supermarket'
    ringtone via bluetooth (I wonder
    who will ever do that, but
    I might be wrong;)

  • the 'multi-component' menue -
    works without technology, based
    on color codes, one can easily
    'customize' meals based certain
    side-dishes and main courses -
    the color code helps for achieving
    I can imagine that as quite successfull.

  • the 'sound shower' removes the
    need of putting on heads when
    listening to CD's since the sound
    is directed only to the user
    standing under the shower.
    It's a quite fascinating experience.
    Just imagine what you could do
    when covering the entire ceiling
    with tiles of that system and
    combining it with indoor
    whispering anytime anywhere.

  • then there is the wine testing,
    operated through supermarket's
    member card.
    Looks nice and works well.

  • the make-up machine gives
    suggestions on products by
    virtual make-up: user's
    photo get's overlayed
    with the make-up effects.

  • the skin machine evaluates
    the user's fat in the skin
    and recommends products.
    Well...without a guided tour,
    I probably would not have
    spent attention to that machine...

  • then, there is the check-out
    which I have seen in operation
    in the US already years ago.
    It works but at least currently
    there are plenty of human
    'helpers' in place.

  • Finally, I could see the first
    'kill-tag' machine. It works but
    'interestingly, since May 2008
    only five users have ever killed
    tags' mentioned our guide proudly
    and deriving from that that users
    wouldn't care about RFID anymore.
    But why should they if in the
    current store not even a single
    product is tagged with RFID!?

Overall, it was a nice visit - just it had nothing to do with RFID as it was our course visitors' and ourselves' expectation...
Finally, the famous robot did not work either;(