Waiter, There’s Tech in my Food
At a recent panel discussion hosted by The Design Museum Boston on the topic of Hospitality as Human Centered Design, a discussion centered on the use of technology as part of the user experience, Joe Thibert, President of TriMark United East, shared a recent negative experience he had at LaGuardia airport, where his only option at a cafe was to order his coffee via iPad. He explained that the user interface didn’t allow for specific additions or modifications to the limited coffee menu, and the absence of a human to interact with to explain his desired coffee choice created an overall negative experience at the cafe.
The conversation explored how the very act of visiting a restaurant is social in nature, and we as humans dine out because we enjoy the social and convivial atmosphere created in restaurants, with interactions between fellow patrons, waitstaff, and bartenders. So why are we allowing technology to replace these basic human interactions? What’s the tipping point within the dining experience where technology slips from being helpful and fun, to cumbersome, unnecessary, and a distraction from our real purpose for being there?
This discussion clearly demonstrates that the experience issues our clients have with technology, transcends verticals. In the human experience with technology, not everybody has the same knowledge level, or expects the same results. And that’s why forcing technology onto the user, rather than taking care to seamlessly blend it into his/her lifestyle, has negative repercussions.
But… there are the positives. A lot of them in fact. At the same event, Ryan Shefferman of Gate 3 Design explained how by partnering with b Architecture Studio they now have the ability to create 3D renderings with BIM technology and offer drive-throughs of the design space, allowing the restaurateur to virtually walk through the space, see the design come to life, and witness the user experience before it is built. Kelly Daigle, founder of Clothbound, further echoed the use of BIM technology in specifying hardware and lighting, which allows the restaurateur to know how certain pieces will look in the space without actually purchasing them first. That can be an enormous money-saving capability.
Joe also mentioned how Flour Bakery, always buzzing with activity and with a line out the door, uses technology in their interface between the ordering process and the barista. The technology is happening behind the counter, but it certainly enhances the customer experience by streamlining the data transfer so the customer is served in a timely manner with the correct order.
Technology is most undoubtedly here, and it will continue to infiltrate all aspects of our lives, but to what level? And how it impacts the user experience in a positive or negative way is up to us as designers and consumers. It’s a big topic, and one we at OneVision are looking forward to talking about more with our partners and the community at large. For additional reading on this topic, explore our article on how poor technology design with lighting systems negatively affects the user experience in the home and additionally how it’s easy to overdo it in the modern smart-home if you don’t keep the tech in check.
OneVision is dedicated to promoting discussion and exploration of big issues like this one–which is exactly why we created our Speaker Series. If you’re interested in attending future Speaker Series events, complete the form below and we’ll be sure to add you to our Events list.