MEX Notes: BERG: turning receipts into ‘paper apps’

  • BERG: turning receipts into ‘paper apps’ – BERG (the British Experimental Rocket Group, in case you were wondering…) continues its interesting exploration of new and 'quiet' information surfaces, this time looking at how paper receipts could be thought of as 'apps'. The concept is simple: the point of sale terminal knows what has been purchased and, combined with data pulled from the web, is capable of augmenting the receipt with interesting stats and information snacks for the user. At a time when the industry's technology hype machine is gearing up for yet another pass at NFC, this strikes me as a refreshingly simple way of using existing infrastructure to deliver a new user experience at the point of sale. After all, if paper is output from a web connected printer, why shouldn't we think of it as just another type of digital display? Interesting to imagine what HP could do with this idea if they move forward with their plan to embed Palm's WebOS in printers…

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  1. 1
    DM Cook

    I love this idea. It’s about time we revisited the objects that led to our computer/GUI metaphors in the first place!

    I think “organic design” (that is, design that isn’t limited to a set of functions, such as a hardware platform or even a single object) is a more logical step for the next hardware/software platform than the 2D/”planar” systems (screens, windowed GUIs, single machines) that we’ve worked with all these years. And, obviously, receipts are a “real-world” example of this organic design: they’re being thought of as informational objects, in a designed system, but they’re being interacted with and used in a physical way.

    This is part of why I’ve always found it funny how excited everyone gets about NFC. Is using a credit card really so difficult? NFC is a system that is completely inorganic, because it depends on the user to “have the equipment”, “do the things”, “initiate the sequence”. The “Buy Now With 1-Click” button, on the other hand, is a completely organic system… if only it wasn’t stuck behind the obnoxious inflexibility of the screen.

    Why? Because “1-Click” allows an entire system to churn into action– packages, printing, assembly, warehousing, inventory, shipping, delivery–with as little possible shift from the area of current focus as possible. It’s the ultimate Fitt’s Law : the button that controls the universe is **right there**.

    First time here. Great stuff so far. Love your site!

    … But why no date on this post? I’d love to know when this is from/how old it is…

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