I came across a queue reduction application for the iPhone and iPod Touch four years ago that was intriguing. At the time it looked like the application wasn’t quite finished or certified for use yet by Apple and Starbucks, but from what I gathered at the time it was meant to work something like this:
- User comes in range of a Starbucks WiFi Hotspot
- Application recognizes the Starbucks WiFi Hotspot or user initiates application
- Application engages the user interface portion of the application
- Application makes a connection
- Application prompts user to order a Starbucks beverage
- Application user interface facilitates the selection and transmission of the drink order (including a list of saved favorites to speed the process)
- Application connects to the user’s iTunes account
- Application deducts funds from the user’s iTunes account
- Application creates a visual barcode with the information necessary to register payment
- User places iPhone or iPod Touch with visual barcode under a reader at the pickup counter
- User collects their beverage
The visual barcode (semacode) and scanner portion of the system could be made unnecessary (or relegated to backup system status), by instead transmitting a payment confirmation to Starbuck’s on-site systems directly via the WiFi connection. In the backup scenario, the visual barcode would serve as an electronic receipt to show proof of payment in case the systems in the store doesn’t receive the systematic payment immediately.
Imagine the convenience of getting a block or two from your favorite Starbucks, connecting, clicking ‘The Usual’ and proceeding directly to the drink pickup counter instead of waiting in line to order and pay.
Of course there is no reason why companies like McDonald’s or Cinemark couldn’t create similar applications to eliminate some of the queueing from our lives. If people could order this easily with their phones then businesses could reduce staffing or reallocate resources from order taking and payment processing to more value-added activities like preparing food or beverage orders.
Apps like this could be extended to the Web through the introduction of a store number field or store locator mini-application or pulldown at the beginning of the application sequence. This would allow you to order out of range of the in-store WiFi over your cellular network or from your home or office internet connection.
Less time spent waiting in lines?
Oh what a beautiful world.
But, as I looked to refresh this article from 2008 and bring it to the Innovation Excellence readers I checked back and it turned out that the creator, Phil Lu, is a designer and created this as a mockup not as real app. This is a great example of shining your star and engaging in personal innovation. Just look at all of the coverage he got of his design and visioning skills for this prototype back in 2008 when I first wrote this article.
If you missed my previous personal innovation article on shining your star, it is here.
Braden Kelley is a Social Business Architect and the author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire from John Wiley & Sons. Braden is also a popular innovation speaker and trainer, and advises companies on embedding innovation across the organization and how to attract and engage customers, partners, and employees.