This week for my observation assignment I decided to look at the Whole Foods automated register lanes. At the 365 whole Foods by Atlantic Avenue, there is always a backup around peak hours. There are three dedicated lanes that flash a new register once it becomes open. If I were designing these lanes I would try my best to incorporate the fact that everyone is extremely frustrated while checking out of the grocery store. They have kids at home, work to finish and places to be. This means everyone just wants to get out of there.
I tend to think of the status bar as an inspiration to make this system better. Why is it so satisfying to watch our data upload with a bar? Imagine uploading and downloading without it! These lanes seem to choose which of the three at random (with a preference to the express lane). How do they code the split? And what data caused the way they divvy up the lanes? This could cause more frustration for the other lanes but does provide a speedier experience for those not getting as much. All of these questions run through the minds of the people in the lanes. They also have screens displaying cooking videos, which do help I think to keep people distracted but also has the feeling of trying to sell you more product.
One way I think I would make this experience better is by using the status bar idea. Create a whole foods app (use the existing prime now app they make you download for discounts, where they are probably just selling more of your data/preferences). Instead, use the app to show the average wait time of both lanes in real time. This could be made using cameras and machine learning. That way, people know the wait time and can plan their expectations accordingly. Also, I would use this data to inform an algorithm that would disperse the express lane-regular lane ratio accordingly.