A Seamless Lunch
A colleague and I walked over to a certain Asian fast food restaurant the other day. The line was long, full of people still trying to decide what to eat from the steam table. When they finally got to the counter, someone behind the counter had to replenish the white rice, and then the orders were stacked up at the cashier. Eventually, we sat and ate, but the waiting ate most of our time. It made me think of what lunch would be like in a seamless world…
As we walked toward the restaurant, my phone buzzed. An alert from the store. “Did you want to try our special Kale, Mushroom & Chicken today, or do you want the usual?” Hmm, I thought, sounds interesting. I pressed “Yes.” We then continued to walk to the restaurant. When we got there, there was no line. People were eating their lunches at tables. There were no menus on the wall behind the counter. There was no cash register. Just a counter with a number of orders on it and a cooler full of drinks. We walked towards the counter where our orders waited. My name was written on the bag, plus my phone buzzed when I got near it. My colleague ordered her usual, so she picked hers up at the same time. At the cooler, my colleague grabbed a fruit juice. We picked up our lunch and walked to a table. We sat down. Moments later, I got a call that I had to get back to the office, so we got up and walked back to work.
What just happened? We walked to the restaurant, picked up our food, which was hot and freshly ready for us the moment we got there, and walked back to the office. We didn’t wait in line. We didn’t have to order. We didn’t even have to pay.
What really happened:
- Our smartphones detected that we were walking toward the restaurant, so they knew we were coming
- The restaurant automatically sent me an upsell suggestion as I walked towards it.
- My colleague didn’t get one as she had previously told them she didn’t want offers
- The orders were placed right after I said “yes.”
- My smartphone told the restaurant the exact moment that we would walk into the store based on our walking speed.
- It gave the store an ETA, so they were able to make sure that our orders were as fresh and ready as possible when we walked in.
- The orders were placed on the counter moments before we walked in
- As we reached our lunches, a Bluetooth low energy (BLE) sticker on the bottom of the bag communicated with our phones, buzzing when we stood in front of our orders.
- As we picked up our order, it detected that it was traveling with us. If either of us had picked up the wrong order, an alert would let us and the store know we’d picked up the wrong bag.
- My colleague picked up a fruit juice. Within moments, the BLE sticker on the bottle told her smartphone app that she was carrying it along with her lunch.
- We sat down. Our smartphone apps detected a lack of movement within the walls of the store and assumed that we would be eating in. Our default payment methods were used to pay for our lunches.
- Moments later, our apps detected that we weren’t going to eat in after all, and we each got a 10% takeout discount…
I have to say – I really, really like this future. No lines! No rude cashiers! No indecisive people in line in front of you! Let’s go back to this future, shall we?