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May I send this to our customer? He is in the business of testing prototypes of buses and had some issues with the air conditioning in the models intended for some hot countries. Turned out that the air conditioning was good enough and the problems came from the local habits and customs of the passengers. He would just love to read this one.
I have lived with several Zen masters - all of them were cats.
His last invention was an evil Lasagna. It didn't kill anyone, and it actually tasted pretty good.
I had a lengthy conference call this morning with a client regarding one of our applications. At the heart of the matter was the elimination of touch points for their timeclock software. The current software (basically a cloud-based SPA that runs out of a Click-Once browser control) was designed to work on their existing touchscreen POS terminals.
Now they want to go touchless by using fixed scanners for id badges. (for both their POS (another vendor) and our app) For the most part, the app is pretty simple:
0: Enter a PIN (already works with scanner, no problem)
1: Once PIN is validated, choose an option (Cancel, View Schedule, Clock In/Out/Lunch (depending on current status))
2: Take appropriate action and return to the PIN screen.
I've just started thinking about this and so far have come to the conclusion that I will need to add a 'scanner mode' that basically eliminates the choices in step 1...either you're in or you're out and the appropriate action gets triggered automatically and back to 0 for the next one...they should be able to take it out of 'scanner mode' if they want the options back and feel brave.
Now to come up with a time/expense guesstimate and multiply it by 3 for the quote.
The customer now needs to order around 400 scanners and spend the summer getting them setup and ready. Luckily, I don't have to be involved in that part of things.
So, is this touchless movement just a passing fad, or is it here to stay? Will this now create a shortage of continuous mode scanners? (likely built in a very large country in Asia!)
It seems pointless when you consider all the public touchpoints out there...ATMs, debit/credit card readers at the local bodega, gas pumps, door handles, etc. Perhaps eventually, we'll all handle transactions by scanning a tattoo or embedded chip.
One thing to watch for in the change from entering numbers and scanning is 'bounce' (double clocking). The user scans their card (or whatever) and then reverses the gesture to be able to put their card back from whence it came which causes it to be rescanned. Your software will have to look for clock in / clock out happening in a very short space of time (e.g. less than 5 seconds) and just ignore the 2nd swipe.
entering numbers and scanning is 'bounce' (double clocking).
Bounce protection was enabled a few years ago after tracking down a bounce (double-clocking) issue that at first seemed random and sporadic until a few users (out of hundreds) started showing a pattern. I didn't know it was possible to submit a webform twice by double-clicking. Once I had mastered the extreme double-click method, I was able to replicate then address the problem.
My wife has a tendency to double-click everything as well, including buttons or links in web pages.
As for scanner bounce, I would hope the scanner has a programmable delay to help eliminate double-scans.
If you're just scanning to make a "state transition" (on shift/off shift, undifferentiated), then you'll need a defence against lost/forgotten/duplicated transitions. For example, when they scan "in", you should provide some feedback like "Welcome", and "Goodbye" for scanning "out", and provide a procedure for sorting things out if they get the "wrong" feedback.
It's not simple!
Software rusts. Simon Stephenson, ca 1994. So does this signature. me, 2012
I'm expecting that at least a dozen each day will forget to bring/lose their badge...I certainly can't expect them to keep up with anything else.
I'm actually leaning towards rewriting the app to work with Xbox/Kinect on a huge display so they can just point to their option and blink. I'm also thinking of adding a thermal sensor and a metal detector so it can monitor body temps and find weapons.