There are many things I do not know about Argentina. Until today, one of them was this: if you’re in an Argentinian bank, you may not use electronic devices. That includes phones and e-readers like the Kindle (and I can’t be the only person here who is pretty much surgically attached to their Kindle).
Enter the literature dispenser.
Roni Bandini, an Argentinian author, found himself twiddling his thumbs in a Buenos Aires bank queue, and thought that perhaps the 50 other people he could see in the same situation might benefit from a little distraction. How about a machine, owned by the bank, that could furnish you with one of a curated selection of short stories at the touch of a button? The short stories bit was easy: he writes them for a living.
He chose a Raspberry Pi because there are so many libraries for thermal printers and LCD displays available (and because it’s tiny, and you can fit a heck of a lot of short stories on an SD card these days).
This project was “trial and error” in many aspects. I had troubles with power source amperage due to thermal printer requirements, conflicts with previous software running in the Raspberry – since the same one was used for other projects – and I had to write some routines to avoid words being split due to ticket width. Since the machine could be working for 12 hours in a row, I have added a small 5v cooling fan in the back.
He built a wooden prototype, and was helped out by Z-lab, a small, local 3d print design studio, with permanent casing (which is rather lovely).
The UI’s very simple: press the green button, be rewarded with a short story, printed to order on a till strip. We’d love to see businesses use these in real life (and we’re thinking one of these would be a lovely addition to the Pi Towers lobby, to help soothe anxious interview candidates). Thanks Roni – I’m off to try to find some of your work in translation, and we’re all agreed that we’re very grateful for internet banking.