While it was easy to come up with examples of interactive technology in public places, there seemed to be limited examples of more 'conversational' interaction – ie with some back-and-forth. For non-conversational interaction, the subway card-swipe + turnstiles/revolving-doors seemed like a good example of poor interaction design – one generally swipes and starts walking in a single motion, so on occasions where the card doesn't read properly, people generally end up walking into the turnstile/pushing the door, because the screen is now behind you.. it would probably be better if the screen was further in front, or overhead so you could clearly see when you're swipe failed.. or a more jarring sound.
For more conversational interactions, a few things came to mind
- the MTA ticket machines, or train tickets machines in general (though Danny did say how everyone does this, and to try to find something else)
- kiosks at airport to print your boarding pass (airports are too far to go to just to observe this)
- ATM machines (I don't think people would take too well to me hovering around while they withdraw money)
- self-checkout machines
I ended up going to home depot to observe the self checkout machine... people struggled the most with trying to get the machine to read the barcode, holding the object in all possible orientations against two possible scanning 'glass windows'. For some items it went smoothly and people seemed to settle into a rhythm. The next stop of hesitation was payment – the display provided a loft of different options, which required a moment to go through. It seemed cash was the default option – did not require a second click to pay by cash. This was a point of confusion for some people, but a few people who seemed to be more experienced with these machines went through the interaction very fast. The coin dispensing area sometime made the coins jump out. The area to insert cash was also not extremely obvious, and it took people a second to find it.
Given it was a store that sells large items, the area on the right of the machine (where one places scanned items), seemed appropriately sized. Though the self checkout area in general was not so conducive to bringing in a trolly/cart.
In general, it seemed like a well designed system – basket goes on the left, and continuously make the repetitive motion of moving left to right, placing items on the right side. I am assuming the area on the right has some weight detection to know if you've placed the item there or not – though I'm not sure (this assumption is based on similar machines I've interacted with elsewhere). People mostly didn't pause to read any instructions and knew how to go about using the machine. For situations where something wasn't working as expected, shop staff were readily available.