The hardware review manifesto

Since the blog is starting to get noticed, we are being sent hardware to review. When it comes to in-store hardware, I  have discovered problem number 1, people don’t understand new hardware unless they have seen it working in stores. What to do? Introducing our Hardware Review Manifesto.

A funny thing happened the other day…

Another massive box arrived on my desk this week for the blog. It didn’t say the word “Amazon” on it so people were huddled around my desk intrigued.  What could it be?  I had to practically beat them away.

When I opened the box though, things changed.
Watching people’s quizzical expressions as they tried to fathom what this strange piece of hardware was or even does was fascinating.
“Yes!” I thought finally a piece if instore digital technology that will excite the masses.
“What does it do, then?” I was quizzed by one of our managers.
I said that it was….

Game Changing

“a game changing piece of kit that was going revolutionize the way people interact in-stores and connect in physical locations.  It was going to drive whole new ways of crossing the barrier between online and offline commerce”

“Yeah, but what is it?” he retorted, grumpily. I could see my enthusiasm being leached from my very body.

Modern technology Guy“Well its a combined mobile printer, web server, LCD Touch screen, digital signage operator, barcode scanner and you can attach it to an iPad to act as a kiosk” I puffed, now out of breath.

“Ok, so it’s a printer” he said as he shook his head and carried on to tussle with his spreadsheets. Job done… Enthusiasm gone.

I was pretty sure I said other stuff besides printer, but in that moment that excitement vanished. Hoovered up in one compartmentalising remark.

Calling this a printer, is a bit like calling the iPhone, just a phone. Its about what you can do with it.

Looking back at the moment, I realised something profound.

Is missing hardware the blocker to more digital tech in stores?

One of the main hurdles for in store digital has been the lack of the right hardware to help make the experience awesome.  That is only part of the problem.  The larger part is that at the moment there is nothing in the store that can be used as an example of some of these game changing and revolutionary uses for this new breed of hardware. At the moment the closest thing that people can equate these new technologies to are printers. Yes those same dumb printers that have sat on people’s desks since the 1980s.  This a vicious Catch 22 faced by innovators also known as the “Innovator’s Dilemma” Is it possible to prove a new way of interacting instore without using an established convention?

How Apple did it

iPhone broke the unimaginative spell that had plagued phone manufacturers. It revolutionised they way we communicate and shop by establishing new conventions (like pinch zoom) by dropping millions of pounds in advertising dollars into teaching people how to use this new technology via their adverts.

Where to from here?

At the moment we sit on the vanguard of a similar revolution when it comes to using technology in stores. Someone needs to give a larger vision, something that isn’t just an add-on to the online experience but something that is ingrained into its very DNA. Offline and online combined and real.

What’s missing? A change in our thinking

To date our solutions have been to introduce computers into stores using large screens, digital signage or even kiosks.
This really isn’t enough to create a compelling experience.
Just like the first cars that hit our roads were designed to look like traditional horse-drawn carriages, the current crop of technology instore are really just computers and tablets supplanted into stores.
As a result, they aren’t convenient, they aren’t quick and people still haven’t established a convention as to how they should be used yet.

A craftsman is only ever as good as the tools they use.  Much is the same for in store digital.

The Connected Window hardware Review Manifesto

  1. When it comes to hardware reviews, I am going to give a unique and fresh take on them.
  2. I am not interested in just describing what it looks like. Thats what pictures are for. Its about how you interact with it.
  3. Being a developer, I am going to use my perspective on hardware to show some practical uses of these technologies.
  4. and share a few ideas for stores on the hardware that I get to review.
  5. By actually trying to build ideas with the technology that I review, I hope to inspire.

By inspiring some of our readers I hope they will follow my example to take the next step and try out some of these technology pieces in store.

The best result for me will be that I actually will be able to show people what the hardware actually does instead of trying to explain what it is.  And if I can finish off the sentence with and here is an example of it in a store near you.. then we all can win.

Look out for our first “Built with… ” technology reviews this week.