Saturday, March 1, 2008

E-Menus Replace Waiters in Some Restaurants

Saturday, March 01, 2008 2:00 Prime Minister PST

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TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Meet the e-waiter.

Restaurants in Europe, the United States and Japanese Islands are testing engineering to allow diners order their nutrient direct from a silver screen at their tabular array instead of depending on a chap person being to observe their pick -- sometimes grumpily or erroneously.

Besides cutting costs, companies that sell the "e-menu" reason the bytes-for-bites attack have a freshness value that tin enticement little customers, and encouragement grosses as tantalising photos of succulent steaks and gooey desserts allure diners to tell more.

It also could widen the television dinner. How about a computer-game dinner?

The thought may be only the up-to-the-minute dohickey in a trade which is driven by consumer appetencies and where crazes help. But at least for now, it looks to be boosting business. Alluring Customers

In Israel, privately owned start-up Conceptic have already installed e-Menu engineering in sushi bars, public houses and household restaurants. The system is based on touch-screens already used in self-service canteens or for ticketing in airdromes and cinemas.

"It's about impulse-buying," said Adi Chitayat, Conceptic's head executive. "If a individual starts looking at images of cocoa cake, the opportunities are he'll tell it."

The house have also supplied its systems to eating houses in France, South Africa and Belgium.

Frame, a voguish sushi eating house in Tel Aviv which have got installed the system, said gross sales on tabular arrays with the e-Menu have increased by about 11 percent. Customers often name ahead to modesty musca volitans equipped with the screens, director Natalie Edry told Reuters.

At one of the e-Menu tables, information engineering worker Gil Uriel and his immature household were enthusiastic as they checked out images of the dishes on offering and squabbled over desserts.

"It's more visual," said Uriel, as his children clicked away furiously on a games work between courses. "We can still choose, we can still reason -- but it's much easier when you can all see it."
Transformation Tech?

In Japan, a company called Aska T3 have produced a similar system. But the field is attracting more than than startups.

states its new Microsoft Surface system, which transforms an full tabular array into one large touch-screen, is owed to travel unrecorded in springtime 2008 in some U.S. hotels and casinos, letting clients order nutrient direct as well as drama music and games.

The Seattle-based elephantine states on its Web land site it will "transform the manner people shop, dine, entertain and live." Both Conceptic and Microsoft reason their illustrations of synergistic and group engineering stand for the future.

"We are living in a engineering age," said Conceptic's Chitayat. "People are not afraid of screens." The company, which launched its airplane pilot in 2006, anticipates to turn a net income in mid-2009, he added.

From eating houses which utilize conveyor-belt dish bringing to one at the Dutch university of Wageningen which tracks diners with concealed cameras, engineering is increasingly penetrating eateries, in a command to hike sales.

Chitayat said taking computing machines into eating houses is an obvious adjacent measure after engineering revolutionized the workplace, although he noted eating houses with the e-Menu -- including Framework -- still trust on servers to present the food.

His company is also piloting a Web-based version, to allow clients log on to a restaurant's WiFi Internet web and topographic point their orders from their ain laptops, hand-held computers or cell phones. Some Prefer World

But many diners uncertainty the e-menu thought will take off.

"I don't believe in screens, I believe in humans," said man of affairs Yoash Torkman as he lunched at Frame. "I'll wait for 15 proceedings for a waitress instead of using this. It's a dohickey and dohickeys have got very short lives."

In Europe, where dining out is a time-honored tradition as much about good conversation and etiquette as staving off hunger, waiting staff were unsurprisingly circumspect.

"See this adult male here? He's been coming here for 25 years," said a waitress at Italian eating house Rosticceria Fiorentina in Brussels, who gave her name only as Giovanna.

"I cognize his wife, I cognize his daughter. Bash you believe it would be better if he was welcomed by computer?"

Some analysts also inquire if the entreaty will widen beyond early-adopters like the Framework client Uriel, to germinate into a tool that alterations the manner people eat out.

"There are always some people who encompass a new engineering but others will avoid it for as long as possible," said Jackie Fenn, emerging engineering analyst at Gartner consulting group.

"Will a clump of adolescents have got a blast using it? Yes. But it will take clip to travel from being an attractive force in a little figure of eating houses to something that is widespread."

(See the about the system)

(Additional coverage by Elana Ringler and Brian Love in Brussels; Editing by Sara Ledwith)

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