Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting



Data Tubes…

On a recent trip to my local bank, I pulled in to the drive-up window.  The open stall was the one furthest from the teller.  I took my check and deposit slip put them into the cylindrical transport tube and sent them whooshing on their way to the teller through a pipe that has differential air pressure.  Moments later I could see my check and deposit slip pop out inside the bank onto the teller’s counter.   So what’s so interesting about that?  It’s a technology that has been around for at least a hundred years.  And that is exactly what is so interesting about it. 

Here we are well into the information age where everything has to be done “on-line” and yet this rudimentary technology for sending packets of information has survived the information age developments that have changed out lives.   And if we do a bit of analysis we will see that this is actually a very reliable and versatile way to transmit data. 

I can remember when I was growing up my parents took me to what at that time was a large department store.   Even then I was fascinated by the way the purchase transactions were handled.  In this particular store, there were no cash registers on the sales floor.  All transactions were accomplished by sending the sales slips and tendered money (yes, real money!) to a central accounting room on an upper floor by the use of these tubes.  Whatever monetary change was due came back a few moments later and popped out at the sales person’s station. 

Let’s consider the benefits of sending information through a tube.  Anything that fits into the cylindrical transport module is acceptable.  There is no need to “format” information.  In fact I don’t even have to use paper.  I can send money, or my credit card, or even an item such as a ballpoint pen.  And, of course, I can send information on pieces of paper whether printed or handwritten.  There is no concern about someone “hacking” into my data.  The contents is snug and safe inside its little transport module.   And over short distances it’s just as fast – or even faster -- as having to enter information onto a display terminal.   Can you imagine the frustration of pulling up to the drive up window and being told that you have to enter all the pertinent transaction information onto a touch screen before the transaction can be completed?  I know many of us are willing to do this when accessing ATM machines, but how would I make a check deposit if I can’t submit the check?  

Recently, while visiting some well-known electronics stores, I have encountered what I’m sure is being considered the latest in technology “improvements” for interacting with customers.  That is the use of touch pads to check product pricing, specifications, and to complete the sale.  However, it seems that the benefits of this method are mostly for the merchant and less so for the customer.  If you ask for a receipt the typical response is that one will be sent to your e-mail.  However, being the conservative and not-so-trusting person that I am, I always ask for a printed receipt.  The usual response is that the printer is in the back of the store and the sales person will – reluctantly -- have to make a special trip to go get the printed copy. 

Sometimes old technology still has its benefits.  If I have to review a technical paper or a patent, I still find it far more convenient to print the document so that I can compare the text to the figures (that are often on different pages) and so that I can make handwritten notes to remind me of key points.  I have yet to figure out how to do such a review process as efficiently on a computer terminal -- even with two displays side by side.   There is also the convenience of being able to do the editing at any location and body position of my choosing.  I don’t have to sit in front of a display screen to do it.  Perhaps as we get further along in the development of touch technology, the electronic version will become as convenient as a printed copy.  However, so far pieces of paper are my preference.   

I would be interested to hear how you are adapting to the ever evolving world of electronic data transmission.  Perhaps you too have found some techniques from years past that still serve you well.   Will flexible displays with touch capability be the next phase in this evolution?  You may contact me directly from this site, by e-mail at, or by telephone at 425-898-9117.    





19916 NE 30th Ct. Sammamish, WA 98074 Call 425.898.9117

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