Like many small towns around the world, the small Swedish town of Viken (population 4,227) closes up shop early. But this makes it hard for the local residents to make late night runs to the supermarket for items that are needed immediately. The nearest larger town is 20 – 30 minutes away, making it difficult for residents to quickly purchase items that are needed to solve routine problems such as the need for milk, bread, snacks, diapers, formula, and more.
To solve this problem, a store owner created a store that is not manned by employees. Yes, that’s right, zero employees. So how does someone shop at the store?
In Sweden, shoppers can use a smartphone banking app called BankID. The app lets them enter the store, then the phone is used to scan the items, and at the end of the month, the customers receive a bill. To deter any potential shoplifters, there are six security cameras monitoring the store shelves. Bad credit? The door will not open for you. In two months of operation there have been no problems or theft. The biggest problem is encouraging older residents to adopt the new technology.
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
Discuss how consumers shop later at night. What are the barriers?
How many times each day do you charge your cell phone battery? And, how long does it take to do this? Like most of us, the answers are probably “too many” and “too long.” And, the more we depend on cell phones for common, everyday activities, the more frustrating it is when the phone battery dies at critical moments.
With a solution for this vexing problem is an Israeli company named StoreDot. The company has developed a prototype phone battery that can be recharged in 30 seconds! The company didn’t set out to develop the product; it found the technology while researching treatments for Alzheimer disease. Using ground-breaking technology based on the discovery of self-assembled nanodots of biological origins, the nanodots are the core of several innovations that relate to smart phones, TVs, energy storage devices, bio-medicine, and more.
Augmented reality is more available to consumers than one might think. But what is augmented reality? In essence, it is the process of using technology (this time through a smartphone) to add different layers of information to what we see. Using the software for image recognition (on a smartphone) triggers an augmented reality video for the user.
One software product – Aurasma – uses a smartphone’s camera and apps to add “auras” (such as 3D images, games, and animation) on to real-world places and things. What is Aurasma? Available on smart devices, Aurasma uses technology that is capable of recognizing images, symbols and objects in the real world and understanding them. It can then deliver digital content in real time, including videos, animations, audio or webpages.
This TED Talks video, featuring Matt Mills and Tamara Roukaers of Aurasma, illustrates the power and reach of the new technologies. They demonstrate how using the application can add new insights and meaning onto the world around us. By pointing a smartphone at an image, the application can overlay (an aura) over the image and bring it to life using additional information. The video illustrates the use of the application with static images. An example is bringing a newspaper Wimbledon tennis story to life by overlaying videos on the static image. By pointing a phone at a movie poster, a video trailer can be launched; pointing at a building brings up an interactive map.
Watch the TED video and consider the applications for new product development and marketing tactics.