Phone charger stations with screens on top are nothing new, but an Ottawa digital signage company has come up with a clever spin on the set-up. To stow and charge your phone, you slip your phone in a bay, plug in and scan your fingerprint.
The Ottawa-based company has two units installed earlier this month at a pair of Sears Canada stores. Sears, says UTG Digital Media, plans to add more in 2017.
The charging units are often full, and on average are at 75% capacity, says Alan Wehbe, President and CEO of UTG.
Typical charging stations on the market ask for personal information or a credit card to stow and secure a charging phone in one of the bays. Wehbe says the company’s system just requires an otherwise anonymous fingerprint scan to lock and unlock the bay.
“A built-in 22-inch LCD screen displays messages, advertisements and promotions of the store’s choice, in any format, updated remotely from anywhere, in real time,” says Wehbe. “This advanced solution allows malls properties to give their customers a premium shopping experience, making it better and more positive while using the screen for their own promotions and advertisement.”
When a device is being charged, a red light is shown, stating that the locker is unavailable. A green light is shown when the locker is available for charging. If no device is connected to the charging cable, the fingerprint reader does not work. That prevents someone from locking the locker and leaving.
I like these things for a couple of reasons. First, they solve a problem for many shoppers. Few consumers have their act fully together to bring along portable battery packs to keep their precious phones juiced up. Second, charging takes a while – so shoppers in theory not only gravitate to a store that has these units, but by necessity stick around and browse as the phone gets new life.
A US service provider is working in that country with a few retailers on a similar program, albeit with a clunkier and less secure (the security code, it seems, is the cell phone number???)
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than 13 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia.