Dining With Technology – A Dinner Date With The Future

I am the kind of person who appreciates home cooked food, but loves going out for a nice dinner. I have found quite a few staples here in Toronto, which I frequent often, but am always open to new things. On the weekend I decided to follow a friend’s advice and try an Italian place called 7 Numbers. As someone who appreciates creative use of technology, I was impressed by the menu system here.

Do you remember watching Back to the Future Part II? I have seen quite a few lists of the predictions they made in the movie that turned out to be correct. From a baseball team in Miami, to handheld tablet computers, they had some pretty decent ideas of the world in 2015 (the year the movie is set). They even have a scene that displays fancy futuristic looking glasses that are not far off from the new initiative from Google. Now we can tack on another correct prediction to the list. There is a scene in the movie that takes place at Café 80s, where a patron is greeted by a moving television set which features a celebrity waiter (Michael Jackson) who proceeds to take your order. While this was not my exact experience, it is the first thing that came to mind when I was presented with a digital menu a la iPad.

The iPad is such a great device because there are so many ways you can use it. One of which, is to give to patrons as a menu as I experienced for the first time. It got me thinking of the possibilities, the incredible things it will be able to do and how it can change the dining experience. Imagine going into a restaurant, sitting down, and you are handed a tablet device. You scroll through, reading descriptions and pictures of all the dishes. Pick what you want, add in any special notes (well done, or my usual, no MSG) and your order is received by the chef in the kitchen. Your food is prepared to your liking and brought out to you. Want something else? No need to flag down a waiter, just submit the order on the iPad. When it comes time to pay the bill, imagine having your order totaled on demand. Just request your “bill”, and pay right on the screen. I know there are many solutions for mobile payments that integrate right into mobile devices, and the restaurants can accept a wider variety of payments with these tools.

While researching around, I found that these iPad restaurant solutions have been dubbed “Point of Sale systems”. One such company based in Canada has created a video displaying the power and user friendly nature of the experience with their iPad POS.

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Within the next few years I suspect we will be seeing more and more technological solutions entering our diners, restaurants, clubs etc. Still, nothing is better than getting to your favourite spot and ordering “the usual”. Now that I think about it, the iPad probably has a better memory… But can it fit on 37 pieces of flair? One this is for sure, the dining experience is due for a dramatic technological boost, and these iPad POS systems just might stick.

Brian Schwartz is and blogger and the Creative Director at Serpflight. He is always interested in exploring new and innovative technologies. Follow him on Twitter at @Bri_Schwartz.

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