Archive for July 16, 2007

Now Linux has a Surface-like gadget

July 16, 2007

After I saw a guy at InfoComm with his own small company’s version of the Microsoft Surface, I figured it wouldn’t take long for other developers to enter the space, including those not even using Windows.

Gizmodo has piece today about a version of a multi-touch interface developed in penguin code.

MPX or Multi-Pointer X is a modification of the X Windows Server that allows multiple input devices to be used at the same time. You only need a normal computer plus any number of keyboards and mice attached to use it. The system lets multiple users interact with one or various applications simultaneously. The software is still in development and there are a ton of bugs to fix according to (developer) Peter (Hutterer). However, it will give you a good idea about what you will be able to do. 

This sort of thing will make it a lot harder for Microsfot to peddle their gadgets for $5-$10K, as it grows more mainstream – though the Aussie developer admits the early iteration has heaps of bugs and is hardly ready for any commercial application.

What I found interesting was an interview with the developer, who said all the hoo-hah right now about Surface and much more with the I-Phone interface will calm down as people sort out what’s really useful, versus what’s just kinda cool to play with for a few minutes.

“And there’s also a difference between the latest craze people go for and what they actually would want to use. Maybe the “race for multi-touch” is over in a few months and the focus has switched to something else. At this point it will be good to review what technologies we have and why they succeeded or failed.”

I think this touch interface has a ton of potential in our space if done correctly. BUT, there’s one thing that bothers me everytime I see a nice, shiny glass screen: fingerprints.


A different ROI model for menu boards

July 16, 2007

I have been working on a few things involving fast food lately, so the Return On Investment thing is in my head.

I saw this brief on Digital Signage Today and found the ROI spin intriguing:

Salad Spinners is a quick-service food establishment that operates four locations in the Chicago area.

“Since we have installed digital menu boards from IDS Menus, our food cost has decreased by 3 percent,” said Rich Levy, chief executive of Salad Spinners. “The decrease is due to the digital menu boards’ capability of providing Salad Spinners many different avenues to market our more profitable items and de-emphasize the less profitable ones.”

IDS Menus has installed its digital menu board systems in two Salad Spinners locations. Six LCD screens with synchronized programmable content provide lively, animated illustrations of how to prepare your salad.

I almost always think in terms of digital boards driving incremental sales on promoted items, but I gather from this that they are able to cut back on food supply and prep work on lower margin stuff by using the screens to hump the higher margin goodies.