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Protesting the past….

Ziosk iPhone 5 snapshot from Chili's in Livermore, California

When I worked in high tech, I used to compare new technologies to wave after wave landing on a great surfing beach. Workers in tech have a choice – either to get on top of the incoming waves, riding them skillfully as they break unexpectedly, or to be BURIED underneath them.

Tonight, my wife and I had dinner at the Chili’s restaurant in Livermore. An unexpected addition to the top of every table was a free-standing “Ziosk” (see photo above) that allows customers to order drinks or food from the table, play games, and pay the check for the meal using a credit card!

“Cool!” you say. :-)

You would say that such things should be expected in a California city that serves as a home to two National Laboratories and as a “bedroom community” to Silicon Valley workers. You would say that such a community of people would be among the first to embrace new technology.

You would be wrong. :-)

Livermore is much like many other communities across America. It is home to a spectrum of human beings of many types, including the type that is resistant to change and clings to the distant past.

First off, Ziosk is not even a California company. It is based in Dallas, TX. You can read about it HERE! The President and CEO is Austin Mulinder, formerly of Microsoft and Fujitsu (not much innovation at THOSE companies! ūüėČ ).

Within the last six months, the Livermore Art Association has modernized its technology using Square Inc. ( Wikipedia says that “Square, Inc.¬†is a¬†merchant services aggregator¬†and¬†mobile payments¬†company based in¬†San Francisco,¬†California.” The company was founded in 2009, and it launched its first app and service in 2010, FOUR YEARS AGO (a “lifetime” in high tech). Wikipedia continues, “In August 2012,¬†Starbucks¬†announced it would use Square to process transactions with customers who pay via debit or credit card. In February 2014,¬†Whole Foods Market¬†announced it would use Square Register in select stores’ sandwich counters, pizzerias and coffee, juice, wine and beer bars.”

Not everyone has embraced the modernization graciously. Some are actually PROTESTING against the venerable technology! The most interesting thing to me is that the technology that the art association is now using is already FOUR YEARS OLD. :-)

Back to Ziosk….

For some time, my wife and I have been getting FREE chips and salsa at Chili’s by “checking in” on Foursquare, the “location-based¬†social networking¬†website for¬†mobile¬†devices, such as¬†smartphones.” Foursquare, itself, is an “old timer” among social networking applications; it was founded in 2009. Wikipedia has THIS to say about Foursquare: “As of April 2012, the company reported it had 20 million registered users.¬†The company was expected to pass 750 million check-ins before the end of June 2011, with an average of about 3 million check-ins per day. Male and female users are equally represented and also 50 percent of users are outside the US.¬†Support for French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Japanese was added in February 2011. Support for Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Thai was added in September 2011.¬†Support for Turkish was added in June 2012.

Ziosk is interesting as an innovative concept and implementation. For me, an easily accessible piece of hardware coupled with executive management with a history at Microsoft, and with Microsoft’s record in the field of software security, would cause me to pause. However, the device is running Android, NOT Microsoft’s OS.

Also (no surprise), the Ziosk device has a built-in camera (SMILE! :-) ).

However, in the name of true innovation, I am willing to watch, wait, and see.

After all. innovation happens NOW, not by implementing the ideas and devices that were novel four years ago.

-Bill at

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