Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pictures make Olympic kiosks worth a thousand words

Check out Kodak's Olympic Kiosks and... Richard Mackson's racing photos.

We hear a lot about how blogs have democratized writing, making information and communication more accessible to both the writer and readers, but it’s also true that blogs and other internet features have had a substantial influence on photographic images, too. People share their output on sites like Flickr, add new photos to their blogs, and link to their favorite photos from another site. Images that once were shared with a few friends are now all over the world. Photojournalists are no longer the only ones recording events for posterity.

The Olympics are a treasure trove of photographic moments: the images are more powerful than any commentary or article. Kodak has taken great advantage of the photo-happy opportunity by sponsoring bloggers who post new images every day. In Bejing at the Olympic site the Kodak building is loaded with kiosks where visitors can learn more about how to develop or download the images they’ve just taken. Young sales staff in white outfits assist customers with glee.

The bloggers are posting amazing images of the games and of their sightseeing in China, along with occasional tidbits about how to get the best shot. Richard Mackson’s comments on his photos make you think anyone can be a Sports Illustrated quality photographer with just a little closer attention to shutter speed and composition. Looking through his album you won’t believe one person could have attended that many different events in such a short period of time. After viewing his bicycle racing photos, I went back to NBC and found earlier coverage of that event so I could catch up with the stories Mackson had covered in still photographs. My favorite part is their promotion of an Olympic Picture of the Day, which ends up on a digital sign in Times Square as well as being showcased by mainstream media.

So what does Kodak stand to gain from all this? The best form of marketing there is, according to Media Post:
There are no plans to use the photos in marketing or advertising campaigns, but pictures and blog posts drive awareness to other Kodak online activities, such as an exclusive Kodak Olympic pin promotion that consumers can find in the online store… Since the start of the Games, Kodak's Web site--including the blog-- has experienced a spike in traffic, but Hoehn says becoming eyes and ears of Olympic fans really means "connecting with our customers in a unique way and demonstrating our innovative products and services."
The integration of web-based activities, local kiosks, and promotion on digital signs is the best way to get Kodak's name back into households. With all the expectations placed on the Olympics, in terms of commercialism, sports, and politics (even though, of course, the Olympics are supposed to be free of two of those things), it’s great to see a corporation like Kodak developing good will while improving its brand image.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Best Buy kiosks coming to airports

Talk about brand extension.... This interesting article on Yahoo! Tech notes that bricks-and-mortar consumer electronics retailer Best Buy will be rolling out several self-service kiosks (vending machines would be a better description, actually) to major airports. So far, Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and San Francisco all have the devices, and supposedly more are on the way.

The giant gadgets dispense much smaller gadgets (think PSPs, digital cameras, MP3 players and assorted cables), which consumers can select using a touchscreen system that provides product information and pricing. The swipe of a credit card can reunite business traveler with long-lost power cords, for example, or perhaps give little Sally an iPod to play with on the long flight home.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Self-service kiosk software development

That was posted as a comment in response to the New York Times's David Pogue's rant about Delta's self check-in kiosks:

You come up, you swipe your credit card. That alone ought to tell the kiosk who you are, and it should therefore know what flight you’re checking in for.

But no, it plays dumb. It asks you to key in your destination. So you type in “SAN” for San Francisco. And it asks you: San Francisco, San Diego, or San Juan? Oh, I don’t know–how about THE ONE YOU HAVE A RESERVATION ON!?

(Yes, yes, I know–you might have more than one reservation on Delta. But come on. Let’s say you have flights today at 3 pm, tomorrow at 5 pm, and next Friday at 8 pm. As you swipe your credit card, today, at 1:30 pm, does it really think you’re checking in for anything but the first one?)

But O.K. You tap San Francisco. And now–I kid you not–it wants to know what time of day the flight departs!

Are you kidding me? It doesn’t know the airline’s own flight time? Come on–it already knows what flight I’m on, so what’s the point of this exercise? For God’s sake, just check me in!

Whenever I encounter badly designed software like this, I stand there, slack-jawed, mind boggling, and wonder what on earth the designers were *thinking.* Not, obviously, about elegance, intelligence and simplicity. (My emphasis added)

I'm sure we've all found ourselves in this situation. Clients come in, asking to benefit from our years of experience in the industry. Using that accumulated knowledge, we proceed to work on a design that incorporates the necessary functionality, provides a suitable level of accessibility, and meets the client's business objectives. But because it isn't precisely what the client had in mind, it's not what they ultimately want or feel satisfied with. Their "gut instinct", or whatever you might prefer to call it, gets the better of their reasoning minds. Whether it's a startup in a garage or a Fortune 500 company makes no difference, this phenomenon exists everywhere. In the end, it comes down to sticking to your guns and perhaps losing the account (or your job), or else giving in and winning the contract. You can guess which the Delta kiosk's designers did.

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