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Old Timey Self-Checkout

22 Apr 2013
Progress: Concept

Perhaps I wouldn't resent the automated self-checkout desks with such vigour if it weren't for the harrowing choir of "please place the item in the bagging area" (or worse, the monotony of meaningless Thank-Yous) resonating throughout the store. Mercifully some chains provide their machines with a mute button. However, every volume level resets as a new customer approaches, replenishing the unquenchable echo of artificial pleasantries.

Understandably, the running costs of machines vs. people strongly suggest that the robotic checkouts are here to stay.

But for those who struggle to remain conscious/sane during the self-checkout process, and for those folk simply averse to the newfangled technology, there has to be another option.

The principle of an Old Timey Self-Checkout is based on the near-universal appeal of mechanical couplings. The same technological backend can be used but all the ins and outs have been simplified or replaced.

Perhaps the screen can be an electromechanical flip-digit display, or at the very least a series of mechanical dials.

The thermal receipt printer now resembles a polished brass Victorian stock-ticker.

The balance of the bagging area should feature, subtly, a cast iron beam in its mechanism.

Plastic bags have got to go. The only provided packaging will be brown paper and string.

"Approval Needed" flag not dissimilar to the trafficator of an early motor vehicle.

But crucially, the only sound ever emitted by the contraption is, aside from the purring of internal gears, the ka-ching! of a vintage cash register.

It should be simple to use but devilishly complicated to repair. This isn't that radical a change in objective. But when things go wrong, instead of the hideous Windows XP CLI box, the problem shall be indicated by the simple removal of a side panel via, and exposing further, multiple large springs. I envision a second generation featuring steam going everywhere when store assistance is required.

Exterior surfaces finished in teak.