for this week's observation assignment, i decided to study the self-checkout machines at cvs.
i've used these machines several times and for some reason they always give me problems. these machines are used when checking out of a cvs, and theoretically serve to speed up the traffic of customers waiting to pay for their purchases. there's a scanner on one side of the machine, and a touchschreen on the other that displays what has been scanned, as well as controls the flow of action.
from my observation, most customers seem to operate the machines just fine, although i have noticed that if a manned register happens to be available, people would gravitate towards actually being served by an employee rather than using the machines. the biggest challenge seems to be actually scanning the goods, but the sensor in the scanner typically does an all right job of picking up the barcode of whatever it is that's being checked out.
people tend to have the easiest time with the payment process, and to cvs' credit, they make it extremely easy to select a payment method and follow through on it. the most annoying thing about these machines, in my opinion, is the automated voice telling you what to do and guiding you through the process. the voice is slow, and if you perform an action faster than it can tell you to, it cuts itself off in an unnerving way and proceeds to the next step. i think that the system is intuitive enough on its own that a guiding voice shouldn't be necessary.