Harmonizing Human Eyes with Digital Sensors

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In this article we report on our research that focused on enhancing shopping experiences by introducing new media services in the physical environment of grocery shopping. Since we were interested in situated shopper’s experiences we conducted fieldwork. In particular, we paid attention to the holistic grocery shopping process because a shopping experience is, as we suggest, more than a composition of discrete actions and/or feelings towards a shopping arena. Rather it is a type of narrative featuring various vignettes. In addition to pure ethnographic observation, digital sensors were used as a complementary means to observe shopper’s experiences, since digital-sensor observation enabled us to record shopper’s entire moment-to-moment behaviors with unified metrics, i.e. digital sensors served to complement our perceptions that turned out to be less reliable in terms of consistency; under these conditions of time-space transition, observers face difficulties to become aware of subtle changes or differences concerning informant’s behaviors and emotions yet sometimes these come to be valuable resources for our critical insights. By combining these two means constitutive insights into grocery shoppers could be obtained. We propose an exploratory process for the most important process that we called “Three-Phase Model,” which was applied to successfully develop new media services.

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