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The Downfall of Interactive Restaurant Technology

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 9:47am
Kaylie Duffy, Associate Editor, @kaylieannduffy

Kaylie Duffy, Associate EditorEvery month, innovative technology is unleashed upon hordes of eager consumers, and most of these products are aimed at making our lives simpler. Smartphones provide us with Internet, games, apps, and music – all in addition to basic phone and messaging capabilities. Tablets, laptops, fitness trackers, and home automation are designed with our busy schedules in mind. However, is it possible that this craze for simplicity will eventually become humanity’s social downfall?

The Interactive Restaurant Technology (IRT) system, designed by Ukrainian tech firm Kodisoft, allows restaurant patrons to use multitouch tables to peruse food and drink menus and learn detailed information about these choices. Cool, right? Simple, yes? With the elimination of waiters and waitresses, there will be no need for waiting. Instead, customers will order their meals via the table’s waterproof touchscreen, and the orders will be transmitted to the kitchen staff.

Customers play games while waiting for their food. Image Credit:  KodisoftWhile restaurant patrons are waiting for their food, they will have the option to play games, read news, or chat with diners at other tables via their interactive touchscreen table. When the food is ready, a server will bring the dishes out to the table. Currently, the IRT system is only used in two restaurants – Oshi in Cyprus and Ebony in Dubai, but a third restaurant is due to open with this technology in November.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather interact with the person in front of me than play a game of solitaire at dinner. Smart technology allows humans to interact with each other from almost any city on the planet; however, it also detracts from being aware of the world around you. I’m not saying I want to get rid of my smartphone; I appreciate the ability to pull up a map whenever I’m lost or to find a movie theatre showing at the touch of a button. But technology like the IRT will devalue the importance of restaurant dining’s main purpose – social interaction. If I wanted to play games, I’d go to an arcade.

I won’t deny some benefits of IRT technology. First, customers can choose a preferred language, which would ease the dining experience of international travelers, and secondly, there would be no waiting for staff to take your order. But what if a customer had a question about a method of preparation or food allergy that was accidentally not included in the touchscreen menu? Nothing can trump a waiter or waitresses’ ability to go to the kitchen and return with an answer for you. I also hope the IRT is capable of splitting food and checks.

Ebony restaurant in Dubai. Image Credit:  KodisoftMy final question is – who cleans up the tables between each customer? Unless, drones become our future food runners and busboys, human servers will always be necessary. Not to mention, as of 2012, there were 2,362,200 waiter and waitressing jobs in the U.S. What will happen if the restaurant industry eliminates all these jobs?

Overall, I think the core concept of the IRT system is good. In fact, touchscreen tablets that serve as menus have already been proven to be beneficial, and profitable, for many restaurants across the U.S. The concept allows restaurant patrons to view pictures of their food with detailed information. However, keep the waiters and waitresses, because in my humble option, nothing beats human interaction. Who else would perpetually refill my coffee and water?

What are your thoughts on Interactive Restaurant Technology? Do you think the IRT system will replace waiters and waitresses in the future? Share your thoughts by commenting below, tweeting me @kaylieannduffy, or via email at Kaylie.Duffy@advantagemedia.com.

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