nico: the shopping buddy

The following project was work produced for an academic year-long Interdisciplinary Product Development class sponsored by Coinstar. My responsibility to the group was the overall design, aesthetic, and human interaction of the final solution. Only select portions of the project can be shared due to terms under a signed non-disclosure agreement.

The images shown above are screenshots from the UI designed for the kiosk.

Observed Behaviors

A commonly observed problem seen as countless observations were conducted was the unique relationship between parents and children while they were shopping in large retail environments. This observation was further solidified as a problem when conducting interviews with parents who had children between the ages of 3 and 11.

Parents often felt rushed and distracted as they tried to keep their children entertained and calm while spending more than 30 minutes within big-box retail chains such as Target or Walmart. A common solution was for the parent to offer their smart phone or other electronic device over to the child to keep them distracted while the parent shops. 

The Problem

How can we create an engaging experience for a child that will keep them entertained while their parents shop?

This quick-fix, deemed the 'iPhone Babysitter' was seen everywhere. Through conducting extensive interviews, it became obvious that it was more of an annoyance than a solution. The iPhone babysitter was merely a quick-fix solution that left the parent without a phone and the child temporarily distracted. In addition to parents not being satisfied that this solution was entirely effective, they also felt that the children were lacking an educational and enriching distraction. Moving forward, the problem was clear, how can we use automated retail to offer a service that not only creates a distraction for the child while in-store, but also engages them with their current environments.

The Solution

Nico takes automated retail a step further than only offering a product or service. An experience is sold through utilizing pre-existing technology that is already being used in kiosk development.

Through incorporating elements of social media such as Foursquare and Facebook, Nico creates an engaging environment for a child as they explore a department store as something uniquely different. While the parent shops, the child interacts with the environment by participating in various games. The child simply follows directions from a touch-screen tablet attached to the shopping cart to scan products while they learn information on nutrition, budgeting, or simply checking in to various departments to gain points towards an overall score. Building on the user experience and taking it out of the store and into the home, a supplemental website creates a home base for children to check results and compare to their peers who are also using the service.