Touchless Tech? Doesn’t mobile deliver a better post-pandemic solution?

Earlier this year, most people would have not thought twice about using a self-service touchscreen, tapping their pin number into an ATM or taking cash payment for a second hand sale on Facebook marketplace. However, things have changed.

The post-pandemic landscape will see most of us deal will the impact of 4 months of fear on a daily basis, whether that manifests itself as unwillingness to attend large-scale events, a boycotting of communal devices and/or a reticence to work, consume or commune in spaces that aren’t under our control is yet to be seen. But one thing’s for certain, our attitudes have already shifted.

There have been many who have suggested that this change will play into the acceleration of voice and gesture recognition technologies, but here at Waracle, we can’t see past the proliferation of mobile solutions as an intermediary.

We are already habituated to mobiles. They are on our person 17/7 (estimating that they aren’t on us for seven hours of sleep!) and they are ours… no one else touches them, so are ‘safe’ in the post-pandemic world.

Let’s explore what’s happening now, what’s likely in the near future and where we think touchless & new mobile applications will slot in throughout 2020 and beyond.

Change is Already Here

A good example of the change that is already here is Pay+.

Pay+ is Tesco’s mobile payments app. You add payment cards to it and use it for shopping & fuel. It collects additional clubcard points and tracks your in-store & forecourt spending. It isn’t the most widely used mobile payments app, but has a big post-pandemic USP…

Pay touchless up to £250 with your mobile.

Tesco have already focused all their in-store and online messaging around this feature as they know it has push through. Instead of having to touch a pin pad at £30.01, you are ok to stay away from communal devices up to £250.

If we stay with the supermarket giant for a moment and look at how they have strategically changed the infrastructure of the stores over the last 5-10 years. They moved away from manned tills to self service kiosks, all of which are now sitting redundant.

Let’s hypothesise on how that could change.

Instead of queuing in a designated area of the store waiting for a customer service advisor to direct you to a manned till, you could tap a button in-app when you are ready to checkout that gives you a number in the queue leaving you to continue to peruse the aisles. It could buzz you when a self-service kiosk becomes available. You can scan your shopping with your phone camera (either as you go, or at the kiosk) and pay with the app. All on your mobile, communicating with Tesco’s infrastructure.

The value for you is in not handling communal devices and freeing you up from queues, the value to Tesco is knowing where in store you picked up an item by data point, which further enhances their merchandising data and potential data revenue streams. It’s a win-win that plays into a prospective behavioral change.

Waracle could see a lot of companies taking immediate steps to de-couple the experience from kiosks and touch-oriented machines by utilising mobile as intermediary in the post-pandemic world.

The Big Barrier for Voice

We understand why everyone is heralding COVID-19 as the tipping point for the age of voice technologies. At Waracle, we deliver voice solutions and understand the value that it can add to a digital product… but it has limitations. Not just in adoption, but in functionality.

Imagine this scene:

You approach a train station kiosk, where you are expected to choose your destination & ticket type by voice command. The station is loud, you aren’t a local, English isn’t your first language and you have a queue of impatient commuters behind you. It isn’t going to work is it?

However, you are very likely to have a smartphone, where the NFC can communicate with the terminal in front of you. You can even pre-select your options whilst in the queue. The application could render in any one of forty languages and supports seven different digital wallets. Better right?

We aren’t saying that voice, gesture recognition and other touchless technologies won’t see growth, we are convinced they will, it’s just that mobile has the ability to achieve the same end result without as much fuss.

Mobile isn’t the Future, it’s Everything Right Now

We know mobile, it’s our wheelhouse. We live it and breathe it everyday.

Mobile technologies are ubiquitous, we know them, love them, know their foibles and hate some of their attention grabbing ways, but in many ways, can’t live without them.

Industry commentators and insiders love to hypothesise about a significant shift in user interaction point, whether it is glasses, chip implants or other emerging ideas around the future of interaction. At Waracle, we believe it will take a seismic shift to dethrone mobile.

The current climate has further raised the high profile of questions about universal device and internet access, which is most easily solved by mobile. Mobile devices and mobile internet.

We believe that mobile technologies still provide the best opportunities for innovative consumer-focused design solutions and that whilst touchless technologies will grow and thrive, their chances of over-throwing mobile as the go-to interaction point is pretty slim.

Let us know on social what you think about touchless technologies and the future of mobile. And if you want to hear more about the solutions that we design, plan, create, deliver and iterate, contact us to find out more.


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