Electronic Touchsreen Waiter
Ewait Table is the first real electronic waiter, comprising not only food and drink ordering facilities, but also a card payment solution and built-in entertainment and multimedia modules. Using the product, restaurant customers can get more of what they want, exactly when they want, without ever leaving the table or talking to any waiters. Restaurant managers can also automatically request and record customer comments on aspects of the dining or entertainment experience at any time during the meal, to gather data for continuous improvement purposes.
To date, relatively little advanced electronic technology has permeated the relationship between restaurant businesses and their customers. Ewait’s creators, Erik Hatling and Kristian Mikkelsen, had to perfect the Ewait electronic waiter quickly, to gain the maximum benefit from being first into the market.
According to Kristian Mikkelsen, “A touch screen was essential, in order for customers to find the concept of the electronic waiter friendly and usable. It is a high-technology solution, but its users may be in almost any age group, and not necessarily experienced or comfortable with computers.” Although a touch screen solution was clearly a top priority, the engineers had to demand more. Ideally, they needed a plug-and-play solution, in order to quickly deliver the first systems to customers and then grow the installed base as fast as possible to establish a dominant market share. Growth in the food retail industry is critically dependent upon having effective channels. Hence, Hatling and Mikkelsen’s young business had to perform smarter and faster than other, more established equipment vendors.The MicroTouch ClearTek touch screen from 3M provided the necessary plug-and-play capability for rapid development of Ewait’s electronic waiter portfolio, including Ewait Table and Ewait CT - touch-based interactive information and ordering kiosk. Combining a high-quality touch sensing medium, reliable electronic control hardware and robust software, the ClearTek touch screen can be integrated as quickly and easily as almost any plug-and-play computing peripheral. This allowed Ewait’s engineers to focus on other aspects of the design, including perfecting the Ewait application software and optimising the appearance of the overall implementation.
According to Mikkelsen: “ClearTek helped to reduce the costs incurred during the prototype phase, as well as reducing the time taken to complete development. This is important, as these costs can be critical to start-up businesses and also naturally impact the selling price of the end product. With margins under pressure in the restaurant business, as in any other sector, customers must be able to rely on a fast return to justify investment in a new concept such as Ewait.”
ClearTek touch screens are available in a wide range of sizes, up to the latest 32-inch version, allowing many applications to exploit the user-friendliness of touch screen interaction in a variety of situations. In addition, ClearTek technology includes a durable front panel that provides an easy-glide surface that is pleasant to use but also highly resistant to scratching. The result is a resilient touch screen implementation that looks good and operates accurately over an extended lifetime.
With production now under way, Ewait’s order books are filling quickly, confirming the fundamental viability of the concept. The first touch screen-enabled electronic waiters are now being proposed and delivered to leading restaurant chains in several countries, including a number of units in Norway and sites throughout Europe and North America.
Across many industries today, traditional input devices are being replaced by touch screens due to their user-friendliness, robustness and long-term accuracy. Touch screen-enabled kiosks are particularly popular, and can be found almost anywhere, in a wide variety of environments, including retail stores, banks, museums, casinos, airports, hotels, restaurants, tourist sites, trade events, industrial and manufacturing facilities. As the kiosk market continues to grow, solution providers are demanding more from their touch screen displays. Manufacturers like 3M Touch Systems are responding with products that offer increased levels of flexibility, usability, appearance, ease of configuration and overall performance.
This summer, 3M will introduce the MicroTouch CT150, a new 15" LCD touch screen monitor, to its portfolio of chassis monitor products addressing evolving design trends in the kiosk, self-service and industrial markets. The CT150 touch monitor offers many appealing features, including a high contrast display, three bezel options, an array of designer-flexible mounting methods, a remote control on-screen-display adjustment module and internal power cable. These features present designers with valuable creative options that are key to developing a unique look for their customers, as well as the practical means necessary to simplify installation, setup and service. One of the highlights of the CT150 is its integrated MicroTouch ClearTek II capacitive touch screen technology – enabling fast and accurate touch performance, physical durability, excellent light transmission, advanced anti-glare properties and high reliability. Kiosk designers also benefit from the screen’s outstanding durability and resistance to dirt, liquid spills and abrasion – no matter how many times the surface is touched.