Adaptation in action

A nifty coin tray adaptation at Tesco's in Radlett
You’re looking at the kind of spontaneous local adaptation that new technology often undergoes after it’s arrived in its intended home. It’s the coin tray of one of those self-service supermarket check-outs.

The machine spits your change into the tray and – a few weeks after the thing was first installed – everybody now knows that, about half the time, your change bounces out of the hard, metal tray and onto the sticky floor. It’s become a popular comedy moment. Regulars stand around waiting for the next show (not much going on round my way). Your in-the-know punter puts his hand over the thing just in case, of course. Your newbie loses his change.

So the clever staff have ‘installed’ a little piece of J-Cloth in the tray and, of course, it bloody works. Your change now lands softly in the tray so you can pick it up and leave sharpish – as planned by the machine’s ace designer. This is the kind of teeny-tiny unplanned variation that really cheers me up (the kind of thing I’d like to see web sites allow, by the way).

Categorized as Uncategorized Tagged