Smartphones sure are convenient. To a mobile convert, is hard to imagine life without a snazzy handheld device providing fingertip convenience. Let’s face it, the handheld device is not the culmination of mobile technology. There are a plethora of innovative new “wearable” technologies emerging, let’s take a look at how some of them could impact the restaurant industry.
- Eyewear Google Glass has been all the buzz since it debuted a few weeks ago. There is great potential for this technology in the restaurant biz, especially for customers. One could gather visual and geolocation info to find the right eatery. The glasses could display menus and special offers. Customers could quickly upload and share photos or videos of their dining experience.
- Watches It has always seemed natural to add functional technology to the wristwatch, perhaps because the watch was one of the first types of portable technology available. Since a wristwatch is usually small, it might be best to have mobile optimized watches sync with a smartphone or other handheld the way Google Glass does. Using simplified touch controls and voice commands, restaurant-goers could use a watch to order, pick up and pay without ever reaching into their pocket.
- Power sources One constraint that plagues nearly every portable electronic device is limited battery life. Those bars seem to follow their own unique version of Murphy’s Law, trickling away most often when there is no conceivable way to recharge. The solution might be a wearable recharging station. Developers have designed boots that turn thermal body energy into power for a portable device. Hungry smartphone devotees would never have to worry about running out of juice for using mobile apps to seek out and order their next meal.
- Fully wired clothes Garments equipped with biometric sensors can already do everything from indicate the wearer’s mood to aiding with self-defense to making sure everyone gets enough hugs. Touch screen shirts and clothes that display digital content could provide additional lines of communication for customers.
- Color coded contacts Special lenses are available that change color to help diabetics track fluctuations in glucose levels. This technology could also help cashiers at a busy take out counter distinguish between customers that are waiting to order and ones that are ready to pick up their meals.
- Utensils “Chew your food! Don’t eat so fast!” Such refrains from parent to child have echoed throughout countless generations. For those of us without a nearby authority figure to monitor our mastication, developers have unveiled a “smart fork.” This utensil uses motion sensors to measure how quickly one eats, since slowing down can help limit problems like unwanted weight gain or indigestion. Smart utensils might also be able to provide valuable information to restaurants about their customers. If a utensil has been inactive for a certain period of time, perhaps the customer has stopped eating and could use a visit from the wait staff. Servers could receive instant alerts when a patron drops their utensil.
- Brain waves To the unfettered imagination the end-all-be-all of mobile technology would be something people could operate without speaking or doing anything with their hands. Such telepathic technology might sound farfetched but an innovator has unveiled a technology that reads brain waves and uses them to decide whether to direct calls to voicemail. If this type of technology were sophisticated enough, it would bring a whole new meaning to the term “hands free.” A person working the counter at a busy restaurant could easily move customers through the point of sale with the ability to sort orders at the blink of a brain wave.