iPad Cash Register: Is retail the killer app for iPad?

Grand Central Coffee Shop in NYC Getting iPad Cash Register

by Chris Herbert

Joe The Art of Coffee, in Grand Central Terminal (NYC), sells coffee like many other people but starting next week, coffee drinkers will be paying for it much differently. They’re installing an iPad Point-of-Sale device, or cash register, via ShopKeep.com.

ShopKeep.com is testing an iPad Point-of-Sale device designed for coffee shops, bakeries or specialty retail shop with less than 150 items. It prints receipts and opens the cash drawer like a standard register, except its form factor takes up very little space. The “register” also transmits sales to ShopKeep’s web-based BackOffice so that managers can track real-time sales and manage inventory, run reports and export their sales data.

I love this! The iPad is poised to become the killer app for the ultimate consumer experience. With Apple’s NFC patent (see http://bit.ly/eRkErh) the future is almost here. Just imagine this scenario:

Clerk: Hi can I help you?

Me: Yea, I’m looking for xyz in size W. [ I show her my QR code of the item that I scanned from a magazine. She scans it with her iPad 2 with the camera]

Clerk: [ Her iPad app shows her exact location on floor ] Ah, right over here. Would you like to see what it looks like on you? 

Me: Sure! 

Clerk: [ She launches the Augmented Reality (AR) app that records a video of me virtually wearing item xyz then shows me the movie ] What do you think?

Me: I don’t know. I think it makes my butt look big. Let me ask my Facebook fascionista friends. [ We “bump” devices for me to get the private url of the AR movie she just made of me.  I post it to Facebook then keep browsing the store.  My iPhon beeps with the 4 comments on my fashion  dilmema.  Survey says, butt looks smasshing! ] I’ll take it!

Clerk: K, just touch your iPhone on this box. [ I put my iPhone next to a box on her iPad that instantly charges my Apple iTunes credit account, she puts in in a bag then I’m off! ]

Nice eh???

Get out your iWallet? Looks like iPhone will double as an RFID tag reader!

Apple Patent: iPhone Display May Double as an RFID Transponder

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Patently Apple first noted Apple’s NFC patent trend back in late 2009. Then the patent downpour arrived in April and May of 2010 which covered everything from embedding NFC/RFID technology into home appliances and devices right on through to the iWallet. But a European patent filing of Apple’s that was published late last week provided us with a little background. It appears that Apple’s work on bringing this technology to the iPhone and iPod touch actually began right after the iPhone debuted in 2007. Today’s report covers this patent which discusses using a cellphone (iPhone) and Audio/Video Player (iPod touch) as both an RFID tag reader and a tag. At the heart of this patent, Apple states that “the RFID antenna could be placed in the touch sensor panel, such that the touch sensor panel could now additionally function as an RFID transponder.” This is the technology that could be at the heart of Apple’s future iWallet and iKey.

Is this the precursor of all things Apple? This patent looks like they are preparing to couple this with their iWallet technology that allows for transactional taps. Should Square be listening for footstep? Or does it make them an easy aquisition?

iPhone App Siri – The Greatest User Experience EVER!

My wife and the new iPhone app Siri have a lot in common – they both have great personalities, they are brilliant AND gorgeous <insert brownie points here>.

I recently attended a meeting of the local IxDA (Interaction Design Association) where they showed videos from Interaction10, this year’s conference for interaction designers.  One video struck me as particularly poignent in my quest for the ultimate user experience.  It was a presentation by Cindy Chastain called Thinking Like a Storyteller.  Her challenge to the audience was to think about interaction design as a story that has a beginning, middle and an end and to create characters to drive that story.  The system feedback is a character that interacts with the user (also a character in the story).  This is the beauty of Siri – “she” has a personality that makes me feel happy.

The iPhone personal assistant app Siri is telling a story like no other on the iPhone.  I’ve never experienced a more relevant app that throws away the paradigm of what we expect from the iPhone UI to create the worlds greatest user experience.

From the ease of use – click a button, say what you want and poof you have results; to the super-friendly feedback – “ok, got it. Just a second while I find that for you”.  Siri has really managed to create not just a character, but a personality that is driving the story line.  Powered by Nuance’s famed speech recognition, it’s accuracy is pretty amazing.  But even that becomes commonplace after a few iterations.  THE REAL amazing thing is how brilliant the application is.

Famed sage Robert Scoble recently wrote about it calling it “The Future of the Web”.  What makes it so amazing is the integration points of web services.  It doesn’t just take me to Opentable to make a reservation, it allows me to make the reservation from within the application.  Want to find a PG-13 movie playing near you? NO PROBLEM!  Just say “PG-13 movies near me” .  Wanna tweet? Sure, say the tweet command and faster than you can say OAuth – poof – you’ve tweeted.

It’s the perfect amalgamation of elegant design, technical genius, unsurpassed user experience, utilitarian perfection and anthropomorphization of the iPhone.