Everyone loves a shortcut–that secret route that gets you to and from home faster, creating more time for the things that matter most in life.
Now video calling technology is making that shortcut even more effective by allowing you to take care of the little things that eat up your time without having to step out of your car and slow your journey.
By adding two-way, interactive video screens to traditional and nontraditional drive-through industries, companies are attracting customers by promising to speed transactions along.
Video calling is known for conquering huge distances between people, but by eliminating the journeys measured in footfalls it can have a practical impact on our everyday.
It could even eliminate the need to enter a supermarket.
Video Drive-Through from Fast Food to Finance
It’s only natural that an industry–fast food–that has made much use of drive-through services should have pioneered in-car video ordering. Starbucks added video to its drive-through services at the end of 2015, with the promise that clear, face-to-face communication would speed up the ordering process.
It then caught an enormous PR break when video of a cashier using sign-language to help a hearing impaired customer order visually via the video screens went viral just a few months later. It was the perfect example of how face-to-face communication can add value, not just speed, to the drive-through experience.
That ability to deal with more complex transactions was partly responsible for the decisions some banks made to add video calling to their walk-up ATMs, and then offer their video chat service to the driving crowd. The video enabled drive-through lets banks offer services 24/7, and customers can make inquiries as well as transactions without leaving their car.
Other industries are following that example and starting to make the evolution from automated services, to automated with video, to automated video services available in-car.
Video Call and Collect Medicine
Pharmacy services could be the next to become available via video drive-through. Prescriptions can already be issued by doctors over smartphone video calling apps, and delivered to the home by local pharmacies.
What’s more, ATM-style automated pharmacies with video calling are also on the way. South Africa is currently trialing such a system to make it easier for AIDs sufferers to access their medications after hours and in remote areas.
If that trial proves successful and is deemed useful enough to be implemented in other countries, all you’d need to do would be to find a Main Street corner to house a drive-through and you could pick up that telepharmacy-supplied prescription yourself on the way home.
Make that a reality and the only major day-to-day activity left requiring us to get out of our cars is the grocery store. Promisingly, while it takes a little more of an evolution to make supermarket shopping a drive-through experience, the plans are already underway.
The Supermarket of the Future
Two of the more interesting automated supermarket developments come from either end of the globe. Caltex Australia, formerly a part of the Chevron family, is currently working to turn its chain of gas stations into fully-automated convenience stores offering fuel, food, wine, and ready-made meals. Customers complete their order on a smartphone app and then pick it up on the way home. To make things even quicker, customers can pay automatically using cloud-based accounts powered by license plate recognition cameras.
If you could supplement that set up with drive-through video calling screens, you could add an element of spontaneity to the experience – because not everyone remembers they need milk until they’re already on the way home.
Perhaps even more impressive is the drive-through supermarket envisioned and patented by a Russian entrepreneur. As brought to life by futurism.com, this concept involves bringing the entire supermarket inventory to a driver’s window, letting them hand-pick items later sent to a cashier for payment.
But, again, even this futuristic experience could be made more efficient by introducing video-powered drive-through.
A Streamlined, Video Drive-Through Life
There’s no real need to have the driver reach out and actually handle the groceries in the drive-through supermarket of the future–although it is nice to pick out your own fresh fruit.
It would be quicker to have the driver deal with the cashier directly via a video screen, with the items displayed on menus and bagged by back-room employees, much like the Starbucks system. The bottom-line though, is you’ll never have to leave your vehicle in order to pick up life’s essentials.
And that’s not to say we want to spend more time in our cars. Rather, it means spending less time there because we can get all our tasks accomplished on a single, continuous trip.
It’s a shortcut through time.