Sometimes I have to be reminded that hi-tech Solutions are not always the best solution. Sometimes, very low-tech can be very effective. Being in a forward-leaning space, voice interaction on hardware, I’m sometimes guilty of pitching voice interaction beyond where it should exist. I think this is a problem that is also common in frothy industries like blockchain and AI.

Low-tech solutions are sometimes the more elegant and efficient. Take this simple wooden block painted with green and red ends. It situated under a Palapa on a beach in Aruba. When you’re ready to order, you turn the green side up. The servers who roam the beach notice the upturned would a block and come to take your order.

Let’s think about the high-tech alternative. It would involve having a button that sends an RF signal to a base station that indicates the table where the patron is waiting. For it to be effective, the device under the Palapa would need to be weatherproof, battery operated, fixed to something, provide an indicator of button push as well as an indicator of receipt of acknowledgement. It would also be need to have a way of cancelling the request. The base station would also need to inform the roaming attendants of the table that was waiting.

In the end, there are many things that can go wrong and make for a more frustrating experience then a more enjoyable one that benefits from a slightly decreased time to delivery in the best case scenario. It significantly increases the chance of user frustration if any problems that could arise. Also, distracts from the ambience of a natural setting where people come to relax.

We have an abundance of tech around us but the challenge remains to create elegant solutions that will delight users.

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