The Air: Your Latest Card Reader, our Best Design so Far, a Learning Achievement

Made in the heart of Berlin. The Air Card Reader is the product of a history of testing and experimentation in order to provide the best experience, both for our merchants and their users.

The evolution of an iconic card reader

What do we define as user experience? Well, in relation to our previous card reader, PIN+, our designers switched the card slot from the right side to the top so that users could handle the device firmly by the free sides without being hampered by the protruding card edge.

Users sometimes pressed too hard on the PIN+'s number pad, which put too much pressure on the internal components, resulting in issues like incorrect PIN entry. This is because the card reader's opaque plastic material led these users to think it was denser than it actually was.

In response to this, the previous number pad was replaced by capacitive glass, which reproduces the look and feel of a touchpad screen. This also mirrors the surface of the smartphone or tablet used with the card reader, making the user experience much more balanced and intuitive.

Higher specs for superior functionality

Along with the inclusion of an OLED display, choosing glass as a key material bestows a sense of quality to the device. Powered by a Li-ion battery, it can support 500 transactions before being recharged by a Micro-USB cable.

In its ideation, we have been able to use our new mechanical requirements to our advantage. Indeed, by placing the Micro-USB port at the bottom, the device can now be securely docked in the charging cradle.

With dimensions of 84 x 84 x 23 mm, the Air Card Reader also fits perfectly in the palm of the hand. Paired with your smartphone (compatible with iOS 7 or higher / Android 4.4 or higher), our app now offers new functionalities such as employee management and cash payment.

A multi-purpose mastercraft

With the introduction of contactless / NFC technology on the market, our brand had to renew itself by offering a device that is able to accept most, if not all, payment methods. Despite its light weight (142 g), the Air Card Reader is capable of processing all kinds of payments: customers can securely tap their card or their phone, swipe, or enter their PIN code.

Visa, Mastercard and American Express remain the largest providers, but phone payments can also be made with Apple Pay or Android Pay, whose providers are paving the way towards the future of the payment industry. This first step in the dematerialization of payments led us to call our latest model the Air, which embodies the simple gesture of tapping the card by the reader without a direct touchpoint.

Let’s chat with Tomer Sabag, Head of Hardware at SumUp.

SumUp: Hi Tomer, can you tell us what you do at SumUp in a couple of sentences? Tomer: In the hardware team at SumUp, we cover the entire spectrum of product definition, industrial design, mechanics, electrical, software development, procurement, manufacturing and logistics of our hardware.

SumUp: What are the biggest learnings in terms of user experience, from the different product iterations? Tomer: Taking a risk to deal with a pain point can bring considerable benefits to the design and the global experience. As a matter of fact, we needed to anticipate the evolution of the market. By switching our device connection from an audio cable to a Bluetooth low energy connection, we unexpectedly foresaw Apple’s decision to drop the audio jack on iPhones and could therefore retain a large customer segment.

SumUp: Finally, what can we expect from the next SumUp Card Reader? Tomer: A device that, once again, will help us to better serve our existing merchants, but also attract a new type of merchant as well.

Blog author

Christine Lariviere