The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

Behind the register

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I really, really want there to be a blog entirely devoted to snapshots of weird scientific, industrial, and retail software UIs. The fewer users the better. Weird dentist software? Yes please. A program used to manage a gross factory farm? Double yes please. The ultimate post would be an illicit snap of a control app for a nuclear reactor.

I think of it again because I just ran across this shot, via Kottke, of Target’s checkout system, which—while graphically janky—does at least one innovative thing: it brings game mechanics into the mix! Check out the string of R’s and G’s:

Comment from the Flickr page:

I work at Target and used to be a front end manager. There is a Y (yellow) “speed score” but it is not shown on the register. On the weekly cashier speed report yellow is between 80%-87% I believe.

The actual G/Y/R rating is created by a very elaborate timing setup. There is a specific amount of time allowed for each item scanned, with apparel and accessories (clothes) items being given more time then hard-lines items (stuff like food/toys/health/beauty).

Each form of payment also has different timing specifics. Check payments are given the longest time, and credit the shortest I believe. If you meet or exceed the goal time, you are scored with the giant “G” after the transaction. If not, you’ll receive the giant “R” and death will swoop down upon you.

If all this isn’t enough to drive you insane… the scores are also sent in real time to the front end supervisor and store leader on duty via their handheld device. As you can tell, cashier speed is of major importance to Target.

Any suggestions for keywords to use if I wanted to set up some persistent searches to scoop this kind of stuff up? I can’t think of anything obvious. It feels like it would actually be a really hard blog to maintain—you’d need contributors from every industry, every sub-industry. It’s not like a pre-existing subculture with established lines of communication. So how would contributors find out about it in the first place? Hmm.

One comment

Love this! Several years ago at WIRED we commissioned a photo series I called “What Are They Looking At?” that showed what was on various screens, from airport check-in counter to the PC in police cars. Alas, it turned out not to be that interesting – most of the screens like like DOS terminals…

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