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Tensator World News

King's Cross 'Louise' goes social

17. July 2014 17:03

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so imagine how happy we were to discover that our Virtual Assistant at King’s Cross Station now has her very own Twitter account.

@KXEscalatorLady may be unofficial, but it certainly provides a tongue-in-cheek and humorous perspective from our very own ‘Louise’. Who knew that advising travellers with heavy, awkward to handle baggage to use the lift rather than risk the escalator could be quite so entertaining?

We don’t always agree with everything that is posted on the Twitter account, but it definitely makes us smile.

It also goes to show how much Virtual Assistants are becoming part of mainstream culture. Not only can you find them at railways stations, but they are also a familiar sight at airports, retail destinations, and conferences and sports stadiums too. And, now it seems they are taking over social media channels too. These Virtual Assistants are certainly putting in some long hours!

Vehicle repair: avoiding the pitfalls

16. July 2014 16:20

Press coverage

The motor vehicle repair industry has always been associated with more everyday risks than most, argues Brett Hellyer, who offers some advice on what businesses can do to minimise risks cost effectively.

Between 2008 and 2012, 8,600 injuries were reported to HSE and local authorities for the motor vehicle repair industry. In the same period, 33 people were killed. In 2013, slips, trips and falls were more common in transport than any other sector.

You might assume that many of these reports were for minor accidents. However, being hit by moving vehicles, fires and falling from height are the most common causes of injury.

Click here to read the full article on the Safety & Health Practitioner website.

Cutting-edge urban technology

16. July 2014 14:54

Press coverage

If you've visited London’s King's Cross station recently, you might have met 'Louise', a virtual assistant who advises travellers with heavy, awkward luggage to use the lift rather than the escalator. There's more than a hint of Minority Report to the technology, which can also be found at numerous airports, stadiums, hospitals and stores around the world. 

Click here to read the full article on the MSN UK website.

In-Store vs. Online Shopping Experience Survey

14. July 2014 15:56

Do retailers need to up their game to avoid continual losses to online rivals?

Consumers have more choices than ever before on how to shop. Armed with their mobile devices they have instant access to pricing and availability information; they can even choose Click and Collect to pick up items shipped to store or have them shipped direct to home. How does all this impact the in-store experience?

Will Webrooming, the practice of researching items online and then purchasing them in-store or Showrooming, browsing for items in a store and purchasing them online later, win the consumer heart? Are shoppers willing to wait in line or prefer going online? Is there a sustainable business model for both, and are there any crossovers?

Take a moment to fill out our in-store vs. online shopping survey and let us know what you think about the latest trends and factors impacting the shopping experience.


Impulse Merchandising, and why selling a toaster on the checkout line won’t fly

09. July 2014 21:37

The days of the mega big box are over, retail is shrinking and store footprints are getting smaller.

Gondolas, shelving systems and displays need to be extra space efficient in small footprints to make the most use of revenue per square foot.Impulse merchandising is a great way to maximize smaller footprints while capturing shopper interest and boosting incremental revenue especially as customers wait in line for checkout. The problem is, too many retailers try and stick large and pricey items like a toaster or a microwave on a checkout line shelving system or display thinking that because of where it is placed — it is now an impulse item. 

So are there some types of products that work better for impulse merchandising?  The answer is a resounding, yes.  

To learn more, check out Tensator Senior Business Development Manager Keith Carpentier’s perspective on impulse merchandising in this Chain Store Age article

40 years of Bar codes and the End of the Long Checkout Line

30. June 2014 19:11

A recent Globe and Mail article noted the 40 year anniversary of the introduction of the bar code to retailers and consumers alike.The anniversary commemorates the purchase of a 67-cent (U.S.) package of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum at a supermarket in Troy, Ohio, the first-ever transaction in the world to involve scanning a bar code.That pack of gum, now on display at the Smithsonian,marked the beginning of an era in which cashiers no longer had to type in long product numbers and businesses could keep better track of their sales and inventories.According to the article, a 1970s ad from food giant Kraft trying to sell consumers on the bar code’s benefits boasted it was “the beginning of the end of the long checkout line.”

While bar code technology has impacted the speed of checking out items at retail stores and helping people check in at various sporting, trade, cultural venues and transportation hubs–it hasn’t been the end of the long checkout line–but rather an integral part of the many advancements that have been made over the course of many years in queue management to help ensure the efficiency of checkout and check-in lines.   

Like our introduction of single line electronic call forward which has been proven to reduce walkaways by 96%, to the use of next generation digital signage and virtual queue management systems, Tensator applauds the 40 year anniversary of the bar code as we continue to forge ahead in delivering innovative technology solutions that help better manage the customer journey.To explore our complete range of offerings, please contact our queue management experts.

Is ‘The Queue’ at Wimbledon the future of customer demand?

27. June 2014 14:45

Wimbledon is known throughout the world as a symbol of Britishness. It might seem a little twee, but from the uniforms to the Pimm's and the strawberries and cream, it’s stamped upon our national identity.

Naturally, so are the queues. Every night of the fortnight-long tournament, 2,000 people wait patiently for their chance to bag courtside tickets for the day’s matches.

They pitch their tents, set up tables and unpack the cakes. This monster queue even has its own newspaper vendors, food stalls and toilets. It’s become an extension of the complex itself.

On Monday, punters even queued to get into the queue, lining up in the field outside the gates. And after they’ve got their prize and seen the match they painstakingly earned, they go back that evening and camp out for another night for the following day.

The dedication of Wimbledoners is commendable. But what we at Tensator are asking is: is this really the future of customer service? Whereby everything in high demand must be waited for by hours or even days rather than minutes?

Over our years of developing efficient queuing solutions and technology, and studying the psychological effects of efficient customer journeys, we know that queuing for particular events can create a much more intense atmosphere.

By having a queue present, the effect is created that the product is clearly worth queuing for – rather like walking past a busy restaurant. On the other hand, there comes a point where many people simply don’t believe it worth the sacrifice of their time to wait for so long.

In the case of Wimbledon, perhaps for next year the organisers could experiment with solutions to either work through the queue faster or disperse it. If the balance is struck between the best of both worlds, then the fans could still feel they’ve got a rare chance to sit on Centre Court whilst the organisers have a more efficient operation.


With that said though, the queues for the strawberries and cream will be just as long at every rain break.

Success of Tensator Virtual Assistant leaves Network Rail wanting more

25. June 2014 15:55

Press release

Success of Tensator Virtual Assistant leaves Network Rail wanting more

MILTON KEYNES, UK – 25 June 2014 – Tensator, the world leader in passenger journey management, has completed an order from Network Rail for 11 more Virtual Assistants, via their rail partner TEW Plus Ltd.  The order follows the successful introduction of ‘Louise’ into King’s Cross station in 2013.

The Virtual Assistant uses cutting-edge technology to project an image and create the illusion of a real person. Louise has been advising travellers with heavy, awkward to handle baggage to use the lift rather than the escalator.

During a six-week trial, the introduction of Louise saw an increase of over 260 per cent in passengers using the lift.  Six further Virtual Assistants have now been placed at various locations throughout King’s Cross to deliver directional and safety messages whenever they detect movement in the immediate area.

Two further units will be introduced at St Pancras within the next two weeks, with a further three units installed at Leeds station helping to improve health and safety. Fully customisable, the Tensator Virtual Assistant brings messages to life and helps engage passengers with consistent and clear directional and safety announcements.

Ajay Joshi, head of media and technology at Tensator said: “There is great potential for Virtual Assistants in the rail sector and it’s great to see a growing number of them being used across the network. Because they are completely customisable, they can be used to relay any number of messages including health and safety, directional and general information such as station facilities.”

Tensator worked alongside telecommunications and security systems integrator TEW Plus Ltd to supply, configure and install the units.

Neil Sheffield, director at TEW Plus said: “We are very excited about this product and foresee a multitude of applications in the industry. We expect our relationship with Tensator to be a strong and fruitful one over the coming years as more Virtual Assistant systems are developed and implemented in various rail environments.”

London Bridge and Birmingham New Street stations will be trialling Virtual Assistants very soon.

The Tensator Virtual Assistant is a next generation digital signage solution designed to enhance both the passenger experience and the company brand. For more on Tensator’s range of solutions for the transport sector, visit http://www.tensator.com/uk/sectors/airports-and-transport.aspx.

Our new Tensabarrier® tape ends – a stamp of quality

10. June 2014 17:26

It’s often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but what if imitation means selling copycat products that look like Tensabarrier® but are actually of sub-standard build quality and, in many cases, dangerous? 

Over the years, we have seen many suppliers bring cheap, look-a-like products to the market and we have always vigorously defended our brand and patents to protect the technology which makes Tensabarrier® the safest and most popular queue barrier in the world.

We appreciate that many customers choose to buy Tensabarrier® from third party re-sellers and we respect their choice to do so.  In the internet age and with increasing ease of purchase from the developing markets where many of the more dangerous imitations originate, it has become much more difficult for us to protect our customers and give them the guarantee that they are actually buying a genuine Tensabarrier®, unless they purchase directly from us. 

Cases of unscrupulous online suppliers using the Tensabarrier® name to boost their search rankings and help them sell cheap, copycat products are sadly on the increase.  Indeed we encourage our customers to report such cases to telltensator@tensator.com so we can take legal action to help prevent further victims of underhand selling.

To visibly mark an original Tensabarrier®, historically, we have used labelled or printed top caps carrying the Tensabarrier® mark, but increasingly we recognise that these are easy to copy and produce cheaply, and no longer sufficient to give buyers the security of authenticity which they require, especially as ironically many re-sellers of authentic product cover up the original Tensabarrier® label with one of their own.

We have therefore taken the further step of incorporating the Tensabarrier® logo directly into both sides of the tape end of our most popular 50mm webbing Tensabarrier® products.  The new design tape end is compatible with the previous generation tape end which it will replace, but now comes with added peace of mind that the product it’s attached to is indeed an original Tensabarrier® and built to the highest quality and safety standards. 

We trust that this additional and at a glance “stamp of quality” will give our customers all over the world the re-assurance they require that the Tensabarrier® they purchased is the real deal and not an accident waiting to happen.

Crowd control solutions as museum visitor numbers rise

06. June 2014 15:38

According to statistics published by the Department of Culture, Media & Sport, visits to sponsored museums and galleries in England were up 3.9 per cent in the 12 months between April 2013 and March 2014.

Over the year, these museums and galleries welcomed 48.8million visitors through their doors – that’s an awful lot of crowd control to take into consideration. 

Museums are places of culture and sophistication, housing famous collections, specimens and artifacts. With such high footfall, effective queue management systems are vital to ensure that all visitors can comfortably enjoy the high value exhibits.

With this in mind, we have worked alongside the sector to offer a wide selection of discreet and elegant systems, effectively designed to manage the crowds.  Our range of floor-standing and wall-mounted Post and Rope solutions can help to improve visitor flow and keep exhibits safe and secure. 

Our stylish Post and Rope range secures exhibits without obscuring the crowds’ view whilst our Retractable Banner solutions enable museums to create highly visible, high impact advisory or media messaging.

For museums looking to further enhance the experience and engage with visitors, our Virtual Assistant range is proving very popular in all kinds of sectors – from exhibitions to airports and from football stadium tours to hospitals.  The range uses cutting-edge technology to project an image and create the illusion of a real person who can convey consistent messages and impart key information.

Particularly suited to the museums sector, our Virtual Assistant Ultra can bring history to life, providing a wealth of information about the museum itself or about architecture, artifacts and even personifying a historical figure.

Its interactive push button panel option provides up to 11 additional menu items for visitors, giving them choices that could include multi-lingual communications, FAQs or directional and informative messages.


It provides a unique and visually compelling solution that can answer the most pertinent and frequently asked questions with round the clock availability and immediate response - freeing staff up to handle more urgent or personal requirements.


For more information on our Post and Rope solutions, click here:


For more information on our Banner solutions, click here.


For more information on our Virtual Assistant Range, click here.

Airports and Airlines Easing the Passenger Journey

06. June 2014 13:17


Although summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21, Memorial Day weekend kicked off the traditional summer travel season with airports and airlines gearing up for extra volume. Nationally, airlines expect to carry over 210 million passengers this summer, up 1.5 percent from the same season last year. According to the industry group A4A, international travel will reach an all-time high with 29.9 million people on international flights from the U.S. this summer.

Extra-long lines at airport check-in, customs, and baggage claim can put added pressure on employees and travelers alike as temperatures and tempers rise.  But by combining tried and true queue management with both low and high tech solutions, both inefficiency and frustration can minimized to positively impact passenger loyalty and an airport’s or airline’s bottom-line.

Aside from tried and true queue management solutions,forward thinking airports like Boston’s Logan and Washington’s Dulles International have already successfully implemented next generation digital signage at customs and at baggage claim areas to minimize wait time and help increase employee efficiencies by freeing them up to focus on more critical tasks at hand.

By leveraging Tensator’s Virtual Assistants – both airports have successfully made the passenger journey safer and quicker.

 At Boston Logan Airport captivating Virtual Assistants deployed at Terminals A, B, C and E provide essential security information including messages on ID and boarding passes, federal regulations regarding liquids, garment removal and x-ray machine instructions.  Messages are delivered 24/7 in both English and Spanish, providing passengers with consistent, surround sound audio accompanied by highly visual information to ensure passengers clearly understand all the information they need to know in order to improve efficiency, passenger flow and their overall airport experience. 

In the International Arrivals Building at Dulles International, the custom designed Tensator Virtual Assistant captivates passengers with its 3D look and feel, providing essential Customs and Border Protection information and guidance for connecting flights round the clock. Over 3,000 daily passengers are provided with consistent, surround sound audio and visual information ensuring they have ready access to the information they need to know – from instructions on the preparations they need to make before going through customs, to how to get to connecting flights quickly and efficiently.

Tensator’s airport and airline queue management solutions add safety, security, and efficiency to managing the increased flow of passengers. In fact, Fast Company named Tensator one of The World's Most Innovative Companies – among the Top 10 companies delivering innovation in the travel industry. Tensator has been recognized for the valuable role the Tensator Virtual Asistants have taken on at airports -- speaking in multiple languages, answering passengers' questions about security, flight and gate locations, and providing overall airport navigation - round the clock - freeing up airline staff and security teams to focus on critical and important responsibilities.   

To learn more about what Tensator can do for you, talk to one of our passenger journey experts today.

Clarins Wows Customers With Virtual Assistant – a RetailTouchPoints Feature Success Story

04. June 2014 14:52

While some consumers who visit department stores are shopping with a purpose, others are browsing casually, hoping that something catches their eye. If executed successfully, in-store signage and merchandise displays can help pique shopper interest, leading to increased engagement and overall sales. 

Clarins Fragrance Group is luring shoppers with new virtual assistants designed to promote “Alien Eau Extraordinaire,” a new perfume from its Thierry Mugler brand. Clarins Fragrance Group unveiled full-height Virtual Assistants from Tensator in three flagship stores. A next-generation digital signage solution, the Virtual Assistant creates the illusion of a real person. Adorned in a shimmering dress and glowing outline, the goddess-like character creates a powerful and intriguing image for department store customers.

“The installations definitely caused a wow factor and the sites really drew a crowd,” said Vicky Barrett, Design and Merchandising Manager for Clarins Fragrance Group, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. Click here to read the full feature retail success story on the Retail TouchPoints website.

Safety barriers within nuclear power stations

02. June 2014 16:44

Press coverage

EDF Energy is dedicated to continually improving its practices and its safety systems are constantly under review.  It was this continual improvement process which led the team at EDF Energy to approach safety barrier specialist, Tensator, to design a safety solution at its Hinkley Point B plant near Bridgewater in Somerset. 

Six years ago, the British government announced it was giving the go-ahead for a new generation of nuclear power plants to be built in order to help meet the UK’s future energy needs. This may have raised concerns amongst some about safety issues but, in fact, the nuclear industry is probably subject to more stringent legislation than any other industry. 

Health and safety is of paramount importance; risk assessments have to be comprehensive and failsafe systems put in place to prevent accidents. Indeed, the UK nuclear industry has always had an excellent safety record.

Click here to read the full article on the HazardEx website.


VA Health Care Wait Times - A Need for Scheduling Transparency

21. May 2014 16:47

The 1,700 hospitals and clinics in the VA system — the nation's largest integrated healthcare network — handle over 80 million outpatient visits a year. 

As seen in recent news coverage, the wait times for patients have been inconsistent and unreliable, resulting in some cases in fatalities and overall in fostering nationwide frustration and distrust. Aside from inconsistent policies across VA medical centers -- outdated scheduling systems that even if used, have not been able to effectively handle medical appointment scheduling or ensure compliancy.  

While many issues need to be resolved, a critical area of focus for the VA must be empowering their patients with transparency into the scheduling of their medical appointments. Given the availability of technology driven advancements such as virtual queuing, this is one major aspect that can be fixed easily and cost efficiently while ensuring compliancy.

Today's virtual queue management solutions allow patients to see the next available dates and times when they can book their own appointments. Virtual queuing enables appointments to be booked either onsite at reception, via self-service kiosks, online and via mobile devices including Android smartphones, iPhones or tablets. The system automatically ensures patient, doctor and procedure match up and the systems can be customized to meet specific requirements. Real-time statistical data gained from a virtual queue management system further enables decision makers to ensure swifter appointment times, improved operational efficiencies and increased patient satisfaction by matching correct staff members to patient requirements and even optimize available resources to deliver patient service level improvements and cost savings.

By using a virtual queue management system, transparency in booking appointments can even help identify and mitigate problems that contribute to wait times. It’s time to bring this kind of advanced scheduling queue management to resolve the VA Health Care wait time issues.   

With an American heritage dating back to 1881, Tensator has a wealth of experience in helping its customers efficiently manage wait times. Contact Tensator queue management experts to see how we can help bring transparency to patient appointment scheduling with cutting edge virtual queue management solutions.

Shoplifting Costs Retailers $37 Billion Annually – Automated Gates are an Affordable Deterrent

01. May 2014 16:10

A recent Miami Herald story headlines how officials were able to bust a $15 million retail theft ring – arresting 23 people who appeared to be ordinary shoplifters trolling pharmacies and supermarkets day after day “swiping pricey diabetes strips, pain killers and heartburn medication” in what turned out to be a major organized crime racket.

As noted, most of the stolen goods were small items easy to hide, and had the possibility of a quick resale. Items like fashion accessories, jeans, lingerie, Apple products, electronic games, mobile device accessories and OTC drugs disappear from stores to the tune of $35 million per day. Officials in the article go on to say that shoplifted goods costs retailers nationwide up to $37 billion annually, driving prices up for everybody.

To combat this astronomical loss, retailers are turning to cost effective deterrents.  Access Control solutions from Tensator are a proven first line of defense. Take a look at this recent post to see how shoplifters were successfully thwarted.

Tensator’s Automatic Gates successfully discourage and prevent shoplifters from walking out with stolen merchandise in bags, or in their pockets, or pushing out shopping carts with stolen goods from stores. Once the gate is forced, an alarm sounds, and staff is instantly alerted.The gates also prevent flash robs – by preventing mob exodus.At unused checkout lanes, wall-mounted Tensabarriers® effectively block shoplifters from making their escape and Tensator’s single line call forward systems help reduce 'sweethearting' a form of employee theft where a customer chooses their cashier, usually a friend, who only scans the lower value items in their basket or cart.  

While it is a testament to everyone involved in rounding up the retail theft ring, retailers can help deter theft by making sure shoplifters think twice. If your store is a target for shoplifters, Tensator’s access control experts can help you implement a cost-effective and proven first line of defense against retail shrinkage.