In 2016 we pushed a big innovation to the hospitality tech space with the first iteration of our smart menu solution following 18 months of development. Even today this is considered by most restaurant managers to be too “out there” as they prefer to stick to the paper menus they know. The change will happen, we just need to wait for it.
The idea was to unlock real-time information from the customer to the back of house areas like the kitchen and bar. We quickly recognized that the bottleneck had just moved one step further down the chain to the waiters, who were still not “connected” with the orders silently and efficiently shuffled by NextMenu behind their back.
The need for specialized wearables was clear as no waiter would want to check a smartphone from their pocket while already having both hands full. We quickly threw together solution based on a Sony WiFi-enabled Smart-Watch and that was huge step forward. Waiters would immediately receive a discrete buzz on their wrists as soon as something was ready from the kitchen or a customer requested assistance, even if they were out of sight around a corner.
But we knew that strategically we could do much better. NextMenu has more real-time information about what is going on in a venue than any POS system but that is only really valuable if we can show what, when, where and how is needed.
Enter Augmented Reality Glasses.
Displaying the same notification as on the Smart-Watch is of course a no-brainer but now the waiter doesn’t even have to look at the watch. The really interesting part is to train visual markers for the glasses to act as triggers to retrieve and present specific context-relevant information from NextMenu. So we built a solution for exactly that.
We will list two sample use cases. The first one is a Table Overview that presents status of the ordered items for a table based on a visual marker physically located near a table. In our example we use A5 paper sized QR code that can be detected from 1.5 meters.
The second use case is an Action Dashboard hidden behind a large mosaic image that can be detected from 5 meters. This shows waiters the outstanding actions grouped by table and ordered by the oldest action (most likely to generate an angry customer).
You can find a video of the full pitch and the full slides with or without notes below:
We technically missed out on the winning prize to FingoPay, a great ID verification tool, but otherwise a generic payment technology product rather than a focused restaurant technology product. Discounting that, for all practical purposes we are happy to claim that the NextMenu Augmented Reality Solution for Waiters is the true Restaurant Tech Product of the Year 2017.
With the solution having received a fair amount of buzz and excitement at our stand, what is left is the search for the innovation-hungry Restaurant IT Managers and CIOs who see eye-to-eye with our vision and are willing to work with us to shape this product into a real game changer for waiters by 2020.
If that happens to be you, please get in touch. 🙂