If you smash a non digital experience with a very high-tech and useful technology, there are a couple of things that can happen. First, the experience may become too impersonal given the fact that the person’s experience is no longer taking place in the physical world and the emotional attachment that is needed for that experience is lost. Or, the method could create something so convenient and practical, that it catches like wild-fire and within a year, it is seen as “normal”. It’s kind of interesting to think about the fact that I can easily see digital technology used in every aspect of life to be normal.
Winter quarter 2012, my group and I worked on a project to make the commute between Seattle, WA and the Eastside of it more enjoyable. One idea that was brought up pretty early on was to condense all of our commuting activities into one place. Shopping, socializing, eating, and transportation, all in one large hub like a center square of activity. Fast Co(whose image is seen above) featured this article on ways to build you brand using new digital technology. The method that caught my eye was an example of a shopping experience by Tesco. It used projections onto screens to show grocery shoppers the items and QR codes to add items to the cart. While this added a lot of convenience and saved the consumer a lot of time it also did something else that was not mentioned.
Shopping in a digital world takes away the physical handling of an object before you buy it. In most instances while grocery shopping, most of us would say, “whatever, Tyler. I just need a few carrots and a Pepsi. I don’t care what the heck it feels like.” But then I ask, this method by Tesco, while a step in the right direction, is really limited to how far or what it can be used for. While grocery shopping doesn’t have to be such an emotional experience, could you ever see yourself buying furniture, cloths, shoes, electronics, dishes, plants, anything and everything using only the internet via smart phone. My answer is, I pretty much already do. Which means, that the importance of the physical handing of an object before you buy it has been lost. And I don’t think this is a design issue of the objects themselves. It is how we think of each object as an individual hand chosen pieces of something that we choose to buy. There is no customization. You see something your friend has or an advertisement on TV, and that’s what you will buy. There is no need to make sure you’re MacBook is ripe or has the correct “healthy” coloring to it.