Imagine a restaurant where you can browse food and drink at your table and place your order, all without having to get up or wait for a waiter.
The Flash-based ‘interactive ordering system’ uses a Bluetooth-linked trackpad embedded in the table, and enables you to look through a menu which is projected from a hood above.
The trackpad is literally the only thing on the table that isn’t the usual dining paraphernalia like plates and chopsticks; there’s no embedded screen or Microsoft Surface-type tech, it’s all projected.
As well as an ordering system for food and drink, you can change the virtual tablecloth every five minutes or keep the same theme for the rest of your meal. You can choose bright patterns or even a picture of space.
Tables are activated by your server when you are seated.
“Computers only have one mouse pointer. Even if you plug two mice into a PC, Windows will prevent them showing up as two devices and instead merge their input streams so that they both appear to applications as a single virtual device.”
Mouse-driven applications are generally simple to write because the mouse stack is already in place and these detect when events take place, such as when the mouse has clicked a button or hovered over something active.
“The only option was a ground-up re-implementation of a mouse stack that takes data from our Bluetooth trackpads, converts it into a coordinate stream, feeds it into Flash and performs collision detection,”
Other clever touches of the system include ‘cookcam’ (our name) enabling you to see the chefs in the kitchen in action, as well as book your taxi home or even browse a tube map. It’s all extremely clever and unlike most attractions based around computers, there wasn’t a BSOD or Windows log-in window in sight.
And at the end of your meal, you can order the bill too. The interactive menu is linked into a POS system to convey what you’ve ordered and tally up the cost.
The 42-capacity main restaurant is designed by London based consultancy Blacksheep. Specially sized tables accept the projection with remarkable clarity, while the interior is clearly intended to meld into the background so that the flat table surfaces dominate the eye.
“It was important to balance out the restaurant’s technological aspects by creating a social space with a strong personality.”
It’s all quite astounding how well it works and how much it feels this is what we should be doing in the 21st Century. When they made Back to the Future Part II, they thought we’d have flying cars and 3D cinema ads by six years time. At least this place will look the part.