Introducing Image Insight…
Image Insight provides instant photo technologies to the operators of major visitor attractions such as theme parks, music festivals, zoos and football stadiums. With on-site printing capabilities, its kiosks are used by clients to enhance visitor experience while also generating revenue.
Established in 1991, the Southampton-based firm has worked with some of the biggest names in the leisure and tourism sector, including Merlin Entertainment – operator of Thorpe Park, Sea Life Aquariums and the London Eye – and LOCOG, the organisation responsible for overseeing the planning and development of the London 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The main objective
Image Insight came to Lumico Digital looking for help revamping its service. Its main objective was to diversify its product offering, although this also presented a great opportunity for a bit of a technology overhaul.
It would be our job to build a user-friendly public-facing application supported by a robust behind-the-scenes system that worked seamlessly with on-site printing and point-of-sale hardware.
To add to the pressure, the new solution was destined for use in the stadiums of two leading Premier League football teams. The clubs were partnering with Image Insight to deliver value-add services as part of their stadium tours – namely signed player and trophy photo souvenirs, created using green screen technology.
Impress these clients and Image Insight would be prime position to reach other major sports teams in England’s top leagues.
Our biggest challenges
With clients already signed up, our solution needed to meet the specific needs of some expectant marketers – especially with contract renewal dates on the horizon. This meant working closely not only with our own customer – Image Insight – but also theirs: the football clubs.
At the same time, it made little financial sense to develop a brand-new product that could only be used in one setting. Our solution had to be flexible enough to be sold to other clients in the future – and simple enough for Image Insight and its partners to configure without our help.
Once installed, our system would be used to capture visitors’ personal data on arrival. This meant GDPR was a major consideration throughout; everything we developed had to be fully compliant. Fortunately, this is something we’re used to thinking about, having worked on similar projects for other clients.
Part one: The user-facing app
We began by sitting down with the Image Insight team to fully understand their objectives – and in this conversation we recommended a significant change of direction.
The company’s existing product was built on Windows technologies, but we felt Apple’s iOS platform would be a better way to go. As well as being a simpler and more familiar interface for stadium tour attendees to use, iOS would be more robust and easier for clients to update in line with security and GDPR requirements; patches could be delivered remotely via Apple’s App Store and downloaded automatically by the football clubs.
With our clients in agreeance on the benefits of iOS, we designed and developed a simple application that could be put into a locked ‘kiosk’ mode, preventing visitors from using the tablets for anything other than their intended purpose.
The app’s interface met the branding needs of the football clubs’ marketing teams but could also be quickly adapted to work for other businesses – a big selling point for Image Insight.
Part two: The back-end system
We built the back-end system that fuels the app in a way that made it easy for Image Insight and its clients to configure without our help.
This was important as not only would it be used by different businesses, but each club would also have to update content regularly to keep up with player transfers – new signings could be added to the options available to visitors, and players leaving the club could be removed quickly to avoid embarrassment.
While the platform we built does have internet access for update delivery and remote configuration, we designed the whole thing to work offline – it uses the football clubs’ own local networks for maximum stability. Our experience working on localised platforms was a huge help here.
A new way of working
We’re constantly looking for better ways of working, and for this project we chose to harness the power of an emerging development platform called Flutter – having already tested it thoroughly in our own time.
This Google-owned tool is particularly great for dynamic layouts, and helped us to quickly build an app that could be easily reconfigured for other uses whenever necessary: that could be for new football club clients or other types of businesses.
Our methods may not have mattered too much to Image Insight, who were more interested in the final product, but by using Flutter we were able to deliver a truly versatile product for them in record time without compromising on quality – it took only a month to get from those early meetings to an active, working product.
Where are we now?
The new kiosks we’ve helped Image Insight develop are now being used by two Premier League football clubs, with more than 2,000 people interacting with them each week.
Image Insight are also now in a great position to build on this success by offering the same solution to other sports businesses.
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