Zeno's Paradox
While critical thinking may not make up for a lack of knowledge, it is essential for gaining knowledge.
Sunday, November 28, 2004:  
Human Factors:
Some Thoughts on a Self-Service Checkout System
I finally had the chance to use a self-service checkout system. I was in a hurry, so didn't bother trying to identify the device, but since it was in an Albertsons market, I'm guessing that it was a NCR, probably a FastLane™ Mini.

I had a small shopping basket with maybe a half-dozen items when I gave it a try. Here's a psuedo-stream of consciousness of the experience:

What is that? Does it work? Where do I put my basket? What did I do wrong? Whatever I did wrong, I better be able to resolve it later because I'm just going to keep scanning stuff. This is really awkward. The platform must be a scale. The item I didn't put on the scale is probably causing the problem. So, if I take the item out of the bag and put it on the scale, can I finish this? Wow, that could use some work. I barely glanced at the display except to make sure each item scanned right. It would be interesting to see how others react to and use it.

In the past few weeks I've seen a few more checkout systems. I find it very tempting to get permission to observe customers using (and avoiding) these systems. Of course I'd want to interview the customers as well as the employees that help them. Yes, it's all very tempting to learn how well customers typically use these machines and why more aren't using them. But I'm not going to...

Yes, there are problems with these systems. That's obvious. It's what's not obvious that's interesting. What are the consequences of these problems? Should they be fixed? How might they be fixed? Who is capable of fixing them? What are the costs of fixing them? I've covered all this before in my Analysis of a Dilbert Comic. Let me just add: Since the problems are so obvious, perhaps someone has already looked into them and decided that they aren't worth fixing. Perhaps there are more severe problems that aren't so obvious.

    -  Ron  1:08 PM

Copyright © 2002-2005 Ron Zeno      This page is powered by Blogger.
Musings not completely unrelated to human factors, management, critical thinking, medicine, software engineering, science, or the like.
Zeno's Paradox Main
Comments? Email me!
My other site
Reader Favorites:
Miller's 7+-2 Doesn't Apply
Analysis of a Dilbert Comic
Reliable & Valid Usability?
Designing for Seniors

Weekly Archives
Looking for Ancient Greek Philosophy or Mathematics?
Zeno's Paradox
Zeno and the Paradox of Motion

(Current color scheme is from Aguilar's "Equilibrium".)