Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Gate Challenge

Cinemas get more competition every year. Films are being watched in home cinemas and on smartphones.  If the cinema business is going to keep up it needs to do two things:
  1. Enhance the experience 
  2. Reduce the friction
Since Peter Jackson is busy with the first, let's concentrate on the latter: reducing the friction when buying a ticket. Picture this: You're walking down the street with a friend and you see the cinema building 50 meters ahead. Your friend asks: Fancy catching a flick? And by the time you reach the doors you are holding two tickets in your hand. Magic?

Let's back up. Fifty meters take roughly 30 seconds to walk. In that time you need to grab your phone, start the ticket app, select a movie, pick seats, and pay for the tickets which are delivered within the app itself.

Would it even be possible to create this app? I think so. As it turns out it takes 30 seconds to walk from the gate of Råsunda Filmstad to the doors of the three screen "multiplex" Filmstaden Råsunda. This is..

The Gate Challenge: To create and app that lets you pick up your phone at the gate of Råsunda Filmstad and have the tickets in your hand before you reach the doors of the cinema.

Let's say that in pictures.

1. At the gate of Filmstaden: 30 seconds left


  • The app has just been started and is showing tonights movies.
  • The cinema is automatically selected based on either proximity or last purchase. I guess last purchase makes more sense. The user may choose another cinema if needed.
  • The movies are showing in chronological order, and the list contains only those movies for which tickets can be bought.

2. Passing Portvaktsstugan: 23 seconds left


  • Hunger Games at 17:30 has been selected
  • The movie has an IMDb score of 7.7 of 10, or 4 stars. The user may select the rating system of his/her choice, or a combination of different rating systems.
  • The user selects the number of tickets with the buttons at the bottom.

3. Outside SDI Media: 15 seconds left


  • It's possible to zoom, pan and select seats just using your thumb.
  • No double tapping or multifinger gestures are needed.
  • There is no count down before it's too late to select.
  • The available seats are updated in realtime.

4. At the Little Studio: 7 seconds left


  • The last step is to confirm the purchase.
  • There needs to be a countdown timer here after which the seats are released. But we can wait to display the timer until 30 seconds or so has passed.
  • But hey, what about the 30% cut that Apple takes for in-app purchases? Not a problem since the app doesn't utilize the in-app purchase function of AppStore. Apple won't mind since the product sold will not be consumed within the phone. We are free to offer credit card payments or any other payment solution.

5. Just outside the cinema entrance doors: Time is up!


  • Yes, we made it in 30 seconds! The two tickets are now showing in the app itself.
  • There is no back button and you can't buy more tickets before these ones have been used.
  • The tickets inform you that the scheduled starting time is Now!

6. Cinema lobby


  • The ticket taker swipes his finger in an S shape to "tear" the ticket. Or some other shape.
  • One might want to switch shape regularly to make counterfeiting difficult.

7. Just relax


  • Relax and don't forget to switch on Movie Mode (= Airplane Mode).


Råsunda Filmstad also houses the headquarters of SF Bio. The question is, is SF up for the challenge? I'm right here should you need a helping hand.


Fredrik Wendt said...

6 - use of a QR-code + scanner (or NFC in the future) should be faster and safer. :)

7 - It's amazing that there's no simple solution to this, yet. My suggestion is to send out a SSID saying "suggest_flightmode" and let all phones, when they see this, popup and ask the user to turn flightmode on/off. (Sure there are issues with this, but cinemas typically already have wifi to support conferences/events ...)

Arne Evertsson said...

QR code scanner? Nah.

"I know, we’ll use a stylus, right? We’re going to use a stylus!

No. Yuck.

You have to get ‘em, and put them away, and lose them… Yuck.

Nobody wants a stylus. So let’s not use a stylus."

- Steve Jobs