Above: UNC faculty members Daniel Brannon (left), Ph.D., and Moe Manshad (right), Ph.D.

It’s an easy habit to pick up. Watching TV or folding laundry, it’s almost second nature for many to pick up their phones, browse a retail site and before they know it, they’ve clicked “buy” a few times. . It became particularly popular at the start of the pandemic, when many were staying at home. While shopping online is convenient, it can also be expensive.

“People tend to overpay when paying via their mobile or online because it’s kind of like a painless payment, you don’t have to pay cash,” said Daniel Brannon, Ph.D ., Assistant Professor of Marketing at Monfort College of Business (MCB) at the University of Northern Colorado.

Brannon explored the theories surrounding online shopping and payment apps, especially to see if there is a way to help people not to dip into their savings so quickly. It turns out there is.

Haptic payment

Brannon and his college friend-turned-UNC faculty member Moe Manshad, Ph.D., found a way to prevent overspending online, if only slightly, thanks to a 3D printed vibration motor attached to a phone.

“All mobile phones have vibrations that are used to send notifications to consumers, for example when you receive a like or comment on a social media post,” said Manshad, assistant professor of computer information systems for MCB. “We wanted to see if receiving a similar vibrating notification when you’re paying for something with your mobile device could affect how consumers view their spending on those devices. “

In traditional in-person purchases, consumers feel the physical aspect of standing in line or withdrawing some form of payment from their wallet, which research shows can lead to a sense of loss. Online shopping takes that away, which is why the pair looked for a different way to bring out that emotion.

“We wanted to see if a high or low haptic vibration intensity was most likely to cause some kind of payment pain,” Brannon said.

Through the experiment, faculty members discovered that haptic vibrations can work. Haptic technology uses vibrations and motors to simulate the sensation of touch.

The first step was to create a device, which Manshad was able to do using a 3D printer located in his office. He then developed a mobile app that connected to a microcontroller with a vibration motor and hung it on the back of a phone.

“One of the things we’ve been working on is developing the device that basically gives us control of the haptic part of the phone. Traditionally on older phones you don’t have much control over the intensity of the vibrations, so we had to build a device, ”Manshad said.

Using the device, professors then researched a sample of 160 undergraduates to participate in the experiment. In MCB’s basement, a shopping experience was set up where each student chose from a shelf of various chips, used a mobile payment app to scan the QR code, and then hit ‘buy’ in the box. ‘application. By pressing the buy button, students received low-intensity, high-intensity, or vibration-free vibration feedback. They were then asked how much money they were willing to spend on an upcoming shopping trip.

Above: Moe Manshad, Ph.D. explains how the app and the vibration motor he created for the experiment work

Those who experienced low-intensity vibration said they would spend less.

“There is a theory in psychology that low frequency stimuli like low frequency sounds can cause a feeling of threat or danger,” Brannon said. “If you often think of a horror movie, it’s that low, weird feeling that people get. It gives a sinister feeling.

Manshad says high frequency tends to have the opposite effect.

“High intensity is more associated with arousal or positivity to some extent,” Manshad said.

Specifically, research showed on a scale of $ 1 to $ 100, students who received a low-intensity vibration after hitting the purchase were willing to spend an average of $ 41.37 on their next trip. groceries, compared to an average of $ 50.65 that students who experienced intensity vibrations said they were willing to spend.

“What we theorize is that people who had the lower intensity vibration tended to feel a bit more negative emotions, and subsequently they were less likely to spend,” Brannon said.

While the findings that could help consumers save a few bucks when shopping online excite Brannon and Manshad, they know similar future experiences may provide their UNC students with more money.

Student involvement

I was walking in the basement of Monfort College of Business and saw a few professors put together this interesting experiment, and they asked me if I wanted to take a five minute poll, ”said Cara Quinn.

Quinn, now in her fifth year at UNC, was one of the students selected to participate in the mobile payment experience. It was placed in the category of students who received no haptic vibration feedback after “buying” a bag of chips on an iPhone.

“It was great to see my professors working on an experiment and doing their own research outside of teaching,” Quinn said.

As a Marketing major, Quinn learned often from Brannon and recently took advantage of Manshad’s expertise to take courses in Computer Information Systems (CIS) for his minor in Digital Marketing. She says that although marketing and CIS look very different, she has learned that the disciplines often overlap.

“They are all related to each other. The things I learned in CIS that I can implement in my digital marketing, especially with coding, ”Quinn said.

This is what Brannon and Manshad want to focus on moving forward.

“What we want to do is enable students to understand and create interactive systems or interfaces to some extent. We try to present and apply a multiple experience that can apply to marketing, software engineering, computer information systems (CIS), accounting and beyond, ”Manshad said.

Multi-experiment laboratory

MCB already excels in offering a unique in-house software engineering program, but Manshad and Brannon want to go further.

“We want to invite marketing students to research and organize discussion groups and make CIS students familiar with the business process behind development,” Manshad said.

Plans and funds are available to expand research tools at MCB. For example, Manshad has already received three more 3D printers for a total of five that students can use. With this, Brannon and Manshad develop a multi-experiment laboratory (MX).

Above: One of five 3D printers available to students inside Monfort College of Business

“We are looking at launching programs and courses within the university or business school that use the lab as part of the curriculum,” Brannon said. “Students should learn basic programming, such as how to create interfaces for applications and how to do basic prototyping. “

The goal is to launch a one- or two-part course within one to two years.

“With the MX Lab, which uses it for teaching and research, students will not only be there for lectures, but also to test the technology,” said Brannon.

The lab will enhance student education at UNC by supporting critical research, discovery and creation, and provide a career-ready experience.

“At the end of the day, every student needs the value of every class to put their resume together,” Manshad said. “We show our students that we, as professors, are up to date with industry standards. We know how to use the technology involved and we can teach them these tools so that they have experience in a job interview.

So, for example, if an employer asks Quinn if she has experience studying a product, say an app that provides vibration when purchasing an item online, she might be able to respond quickly. ” Yes “.

Brannon and Manshad’s research is published in the Business Research Journal in the article titled “Haptic payment: exploring vibration feedback as a way to reduce overspending in mobile payment. “

– Written by Sydney Kern

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