A sales receipt generally does two things: It tells you what you bought and how much you paid for it. But since cash registers can already spit out a yard's worth of coupons, why couldn't they also dispense a fortune-cookie surprise: a factoid, say, that might make you chuckle?
That was the starting point for the design team at Berg, which was commissioned by the ad agency Dentsu London last year to find inventive (and often delightful) ways of using the connectivity already embodied by ambient media and everyday products. (Icon magazine recently asked Berg to revisit its receipt concept, the results of which are shown here.)
"A receipt is printed out by a till that is already connected to a complex system," explains Matt Jones, a principal at Berg. "The receipt printer is kind of this tiny print-on-demand machine, which could display a lot more and take on a lot more input." The resulting output, in turn, could take many forms and even be personalized based on customer surveys:
We've added semi-useful info-visualisation of the foods ordered based on "what the till knows" — sparklines, trends — and low-tech personalisation of information that might be useful to regulars. Customers can select events or news stories they are interested in by ticking a check box.
Receipts could potentially be used to bring awareness to social and health concerns, but Berg favors a lighter approach. "Not everyone can save the world every time," Jones says, "but you know, it's quite good if you just make somebody smile for 15 seconds."