Elevating the bar ordering experience

An interactive projection beams a stream of bubbles onto the bar surface, visually, it connects the phone to the drinks as they are prepared

A NEW interactive bar experience from Cambridge Consultants is announced today. Bridging the digital and physical worlds, it begins with customers ordering drinks at their table from a phone app. They are only called to the bar when it’s their turn to be served. Once there, the phone becomes the centrepiece of a dynamic physical and digital experience that literally links the order on the phone with the drinks being served.

An interactive projection beams a stream of bubbles onto the bar surface. Visually, it connects the phone to the drinks as they are prepared. This unique, wow-factor experience turns the mundane act of ordering drinks into a truly memorable Instagram-able moment. Its creators see it helping to attract, engage and retain customers while improving the operational efficiency of bars.

The interactive bar experience will be unveiled for the first time at Innovation Day 2019[1], an invitation-only global event, showcasing future technologies that will transform our world.

Digital order journeys improve time efficiency and staff productivity, but they are often bland forgettable transactions. Cambridge Consultants believes that the consumer experience must be elevated, not just automated. Its experience begins at the table with a conventional phone-based drinks order. But rather than just collecting prepared drinks, the customer is alerted when a server is ready to make the drinks. Placing the phone onto the bar triggers the serving experience, while the interactive bubbles identify the customer and order. Unlike conventional drinks ordering apps, drinks are never left unattended at the bar – they are linked to the phone as they are prepared for the customer.

Beneath the fun and bubbles is a host of technical achievements. The ordering system combines an app with payment and backend processing. But the real technology challenge begins when the phone is placed on the bar. NFC and machine vision combine to detect the phone, its position and its orientation. The system also ‘sees’ the drink on the bar and changes the status of the order, spinning the projected drink name from the server’s point of view to the customer’s.

The machine vision can also detect and track other items on the bar, such as bar mats. It creates virtual avatars of them, which interact with the stream of bubbles just as the phone does. Graphics move seamlessly from the phone to the projected environment, while moving physical objects on the bar surface allows the customer to play in this digital/physical space. Once all the drinks have been placed on the bar the bubbles burst, and the order is complete.

The innovation offers businesses real differentiation in a crowded market, with an engaging experience that goes well beyond the limitations of an ordering app. It effectively removes the time-consuming chore of taking payments while serving customers. The problem of who to serve next is neatly addressed, and staff are freed to engage with customers during the experience.

Creating playful experiences that fuse the digital and physical worlds can have applications beyond the bar, from fast food outlets to premium clothing brands. Rosie Parrish, User Experience Designer at Cambridge Consultants, commented: “To stand out from the crowd, brands in many different sectors are striving to provide more than just a product or service. They want to create a memorable and meaningful experience for the customer. Blending everyday technologies in the right way is a great way to create these elevated brand engagements.”

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