EXPEDITE IS A RESTAURANT WORKFLOW REDESIGN THAT IMPROVES SPEED & ACCURACY
Natural User Interface
Jenny Kam, Microsoft
Oscar Murillo, Microsoft
Winter Qtr. Junior Year
Product research, background story development, application and interface design.
"YOU TOOK SOMETHING THAT WASN'T GLAMOROUS AND MADE IT EXCITING."
Having worked in a chain restaurant for five years now, I know that the restaurant industry is probably not the most glamourous field to work in. However, the restaurant industry is booming globally and employs millions of people worldwide and still the industry could afford to see vast technological advancements to improve productivity for workers. By employing a natural user interface we believe that we can help restaurant workers increase accuracy, improve communication, decrease waste, and therefore save money.
BACKGROUND & RESEARCH
THE PASS-SHELF IS THE CENTRAL INFORMATION HUB OF A RESTAURANT
Case studies at existing chain restaurants led our group to believe that we could tackle issues in productivity by focusing on the pass-shelf (which is the border between the back and front of house) and the individual who functions as the food expediter or "expo". Above is a photographic illustration of the current flaws in this area of the restaurant. (I also illustrated the entire food ordering and delivery process for further background.) Most employees interact within this space frequently which makes this area the most important to the restaurant.
Construction of model pass-shelves led to discussion of possible methods in which we could employ natural user interfaces to make the system function more effectively. By performing user studies on actual employees we were able to make educated decisions on how the system should function and respond to users in the actual setting.
DEVELOPING THE EXPERIENCE
HOW DO WE IMPLEMENT NUIs TO ENHANCE THIS WORK EXPERIENCE
Our contextual inquiry and research led us to storyboard a scenario where most of the interaction would be visual cues tied with touch and connectivity of tickets. Restaurants are loud and busy with movement, so it was a tall order to employ verbal and gestural commands. Instead we chose to limit ourselves to enhancing ticket interaction. These tickets in their current state are very primitive, and they do not actively communicate. When shown our pass-shelf model prototype the general manager at the Northgate Red Robin exclaimed, "If you make the tickets smarter and louder, the system is already better." So it became our duty to improve tickets from their inception to their finish. Our tickets automatically stack, prioritize and organize based on effectivity. They communicate with each other, the food being made, and the individuals around them.
DIGITAL MOBILE ORDERING
Servers will ring in orders at the table, increasing speed and accuracy in the ordering process. The interface includes ability to map food to seating arrangements and a notepad to remember important details or scribble notes like that of today. Servers will also receive notifications on status of their food, tables, and orders and be able to retroactively alter and amend errors to tickets remotely.
"IT'S THE HELP I NEED
AND NOT THE HELP I DIDN'T ASK FOR."
Digital tickets and smart surfaces help guide cooks effectively concoct their creations quicker with less mistakes. Many cooks we interviewed stressed the importance of their love to make food and did not want to be robbed of the parts they loved. We chose to make the interface the least invasive we could and employed touch, object tracking, and visual cues as a maximum. An experiential video mockup of the interface in action is at the top of this page.