The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (CHINA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 211-222
ISBN: 978-84-612-7578-6
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
This paper described an on-going archival research that aims to document precedents and current examples in the application of interactive technologies in retail environments. Proliferation of technology into retail environments is visible at all levels: from Walmart’s decision to place RFID tags on all cases and pallets, to the internationally publicized Prada Epicenter store with its interactive dressing rooms and RFID-enabled garments and closets. Inasmuch as architectural firms and retail elites are anxiously exploring how embedded technology could help to create that unique shopping experience for the brand, there is a lack of documented examples and organized knowledge in this domain. Little has been studied on the different approaches in designing such an environment, nor how an interactive retail experience should be carved, and what are the various underlying technologies. It is in this premise that this research is formulated. The objective is to initiate a knowledge base in this domain by developing organized perspectives to document examples of interactive designs in retail environments. The ultimate goal is to derive models of understandings which will help to provide insights into the design challenges and parameters in this domain for future applications, and make initial contributions to developing a body of knowledge for the interactive systems design professionals.

Computing technologies increasingly proliferate and diffuse into all levels of physical human habitation. From homes to offices, from theme parks to subway stations to shopping malls, our traditional understanding of spaces and objects are replaced by interactive floors and walls, responsive windows and smart objects. When technology and economics are no longer deterrents to embedding every single object or habitat with responsive capabilities or ‘smartness’, it is even more important that we develop a coherent language in the design of these new interactive experiences.

This project focuses on the study of interactive systems applied in one particular domain: the retail store. It emerged from the perceived need that a more organized archive of precedent work in this domain is needed to facilitate understanding of the design parameters and rationale for this kind of work. In particular, this archival research attempts to find out:
- What are the different interactive systems that have been implemented in retail stores?
- What purposes do these systems serve? What are the different design approaches?
- What are the key components and shared characteristics of these systems?
- What are the different modes of interaction? What are the intended customer experiences and what are the enabling technologies?
- What is the reciprocal relationship between the interactive system and the retail space?

A first step to address the above is to initiate a survey to collect precedent projects. These examples will then be studied to identify commonalties and emergent patterns. Based on the findings, a proposed taxonomy of interactive systems in the retail environment will be developed. An online portal site will make such documentation accessible publicly. Companies could also upload recent projects to be disseminated. The goal is to initiate a framework of understanding and sharing of knowledge in the design of such systems, and with possible contribution to understanding the emerging field of experiential retailing.
interactive systems design, interactive retail environments, experiential retailing, interactive design.