NCR is adding bare disc-handling technology from e-Play to its self-service technology portfolio.
Announced July 17, the partnership will allow bare movie and game discs to be vended and returned at in-store kiosks.
"We're focused on expanding our solution portfolio into the entertainment segment," said Mel Walter, vice president of corporate development at NCR. "We purchased technology to deliver packaged media earlier this year, and e-Play created technology to handle bare discs. It offers the potential for verification of playability and buying, selling and trading of media."
Walter said that by integrating e-Play's bare disc technology into its NCR XPress Entertainment solution set, NCR will allow retailers to rent new movies and games, as well as buy back used discs. Customers will also be able to check discs for quality. The kiosks will feature a high-resolution touch screen interface and computer-aided browsing technology.
"Retailers can extend [their digital entertainment] offering to the consumer in an economic manner with a wider selection than they could offer with several hundred feet of floor space," he said. "Customers will also be able to view trailers, receive suggestions on alternative choices to their primary selection, and browse film categories such as comedy, family or action. It will expand and extend the consumer shopping experience."
Alan Rudy, CEO of e-Play, said his company sees bare disc vending as a growth market with tremendous opportunity, but turned to NCR for its expertise in the kiosk business. He cited some specific benefits offered by the kiosks.
"Complaints on disc playability don't come back to the kiosk operator," he said, commenting on the kiosks' quality-checking capability. "They are probably directed at the poor clerk at the counter. In addition, the ability to buy back media gives the customer more money to spend on their visit."
Walter said the kiosks can generate incremental traffic, creating value for both consumers and retailers, as well as enable cross-promotional activities for in-store products and media/entertainment content. He said NCR and e-Play plan to expand the platform's functionality to make digital content available via landed or mobile Internet devices as well as in-store kiosks.
Tim Sutton, founder of digital media advisory firm Sutton and Associates, said the ability of the platform from NCR and e-Play to recognize discs allows it perform tasks competing platforms cannot.
"The platform can recognize a disc, buy back a disc and recognize disc damage," Sutton said. "It can glean much more information on a disc, even if that disc didn't come from the kiosk. It's very different from other platforms."
He said the user interface and touch screen capabilities of the kiosks are executed well, but provide less competitive advantage.
Dan Berthiaume covers the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, check out eWEEK.com's Retail Site.