Over the past two weeks, I’ve come across some interesting technology articles on various newsfeeds. Three in particular stood out, especially because they have the potential to change the options available when it comes to kiosk customization.
The articles were:
• Venture Beat’s HP’s first 3D printer could come as soon as next year
• c|net’s Electronic makeup lets you control gadgets with a wink and along the same lines, two YouTube videos demonstrating Kinect for Windows (the Toy Store Scenario and the Retail Clothing Scenario)
• Business Insider’s Researchers Have Discovered A Way For Us To Feel An Object’s Texture Through A Screen
Let’s examine each in more detail:
You may wonder why this is on the list, as they’re currently a lot of players in the 3D market, however, HP is not only a household name but is well trusted by consumers and would more or less be the first well-known consumer printer company to enter the market. They have officially announced that there’s the possibility of them providing a 3D printer option as soon as 2014. HP’s reputation may have more businesses and consumers inclined to try the product.
What is 3D printing?
Short for three-dimensional, 3D is used to describe objects with depth; unlike a flat object that only has two dimensions that occur on the X and Y axis, just as on a graph, 3D objects also occur on the Z axis, which represents depth. 3D printing is therefore, the process of laying down successive layers of material using an additive process to make a three-dimensional object from a digital model.
The possibilities are endless with a 3D printing kiosk and interestingly, it already exists! Enter the DreamVendor – a 3D printing kiosk at Virginia Tech. It’s made up of four 3D printers with a system that can read designs from an SD card. Imagine being able to create just about anything and just dispensing it from the machine. Think of the marketing possibilities! A movie theatre with a ticket kiosk can, along with dispensing traditional tickets have the added bonus of a promotional item related to the movie like an action figure. It would definitely be an interesting concept.
Imagine controlling gadgets with the blink of an eye or with your nails. That’s what computer scientist, Katia Vega has been able to do using RFID technology. Her Beauty Technology, as she refers to it, includes the Blinklifier which allows users to turn devices on and off by just blinking, while using metallized false eyelashes and conductive eyeliner. Twinkle Nails uses false fingernails that allow the user to play a virtual piano. Each nail is coded with a different note using an RFID tag.
What is RFID technology?
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is the use of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data, wirelessly. It allows the automatic identification of objects with tracking tags that contain electronically stored information.
RFID technology has been around for quite some time and is already used in kiosks and other devices. A perfect example would be a barcode scanner. What makes the technology interesting is that its use is becoming quite extended, as with the example above. Imagine being able to go to a kiosk or a bill payment machine and completing your transaction with the blink of an eye?
A similar type of technology is the Kinect sensor which uses gestures to control electronic devices. We’ve all played the games, and I can admit that I’m still amazed by this technology. The Kinect videos depicted on YouTube allow users to experience products prior to purchasing. It’s a great concept that would be a great fit for retail outlets that use self-service options such as kiosks.
Texture on a screen
Business Insider reports that researchers are discovering new ways to enhance touch-based devices by enabling users to feel textures on them. The technology works using electric fields that mimic the feeling of ridges, bumps and edges, generating the illusion of touch in midair.
Disney has already announced that they have been able to recreate the feel of various surface textures on a smooth object using electrostatic forces. This can be recreated on any smooth surface – a wall, monitor, and tablet or phone screens.
Imagine being able to feel the texture of clothing when purchasing online. It’s another great feature that can enhance the self-service experience.
These are just three examples of new technological discoveries. These discoveries, along with other advancements, will continue to provide us with alternatives to the way we currently use devices. This can only be a plus for the kiosk industry as some of these new technologies can be incorporated to enhance the overall user experience.