We frequently use ATMs to deposit, withdraw, and transfer money. However, as multiple ATMs stand side by side and people queue behind us, we often notice that strangers who stand behind us or next to us unintentionally overlook what we do (e.g., which buttons to press for our passwords). Therefore, we rarely feel safe while using ATMs. Unfortunately, this issue has not been carefully addressed in Korea yet. The only solution was a few tiny, low-resolution mirrors attached on top of the machines.
When it comes to ATM safety, China is better than Korea. In Shenzhen, China, a bank runs cleaner and safer ATMs. This bank provides sufficient space between multiple ATMs but also allows users to “get inside the closed space.” People must feel safe while pressing the buttons on the Chinese ATMs because they are literally encapsulated.
In fact, ATM safety is an issue for many people. As always, designers address this problem from an innovative perspective. For instance, IDEO designed humanized ATMs for the Spanish bank, BBVA. This concept was introduced in Fastcodesign.
The biggest overhaul, though, has nothing to do with the touchscreen; it’s the position of the machine itself. It’s rotated 90 degrees, forcing people to queue up next to the ATM rather than behind it — a remarkably simple solution to a longstanding problem: the ominous feeling, when you’re taking out cash, that the guy behind you is about to rob you blind.
Another interesting idea is a concept called Magic Carpet proposed by a Polish industrial designer, Judyta Wojciechowska. This concept was on the Behance since 2012.
Magic Carpet is a decorative floor covering located on the footway beside an ATM. The carpet design guides ATM users as to where to stand to maintain the privacy of the person using the ATM and also to accommodate pedestrian flow. This visual guidance on the footway indicates the desired direction and distance for the people to form the queue for the ATM. If the ATM user’s private space is invaded then sensors in the carpet detect this movement and activate a vibration system beneath their feet. The vibration alerts the user to respond and the “invader” to step back. This design consequently protects the ATM user from crimes such as shoulder surfing distraction theft and pick-pocketing.