Pizza is in the news again, but this time the venue is not quite as fancy as the Oscars, instead it's at Pizza Hut.
The nationwide chain posted a video for a new concept it is studying, which would replace the usual plastic tables in Pizza Hut restaurants with a very high-tech table PC. The video shows two customers using the table to assemble their order, taking visual cues from the table itself. Using pinch and swipe movements they choose the size, toppings and complete their entire order without having to talk to a server.
The table seems to even have Near Field Communications (NFC) ability as it recognizes when one patron places his smartphone onto the table top. Perhaps it contains an app with his order pre-selected or it registers his appearance in the store in order to receive some other benefit, the video simply is not clear on that issue.
The concept is a joint project between Pizza Hut and Chaotic Moon Studios. No further details on the plan were available from either party. A call to Pizza Hut was not returned as of posting time, but a large pie was ordered.
Table PCs are nothing new. Microsoft founder Bill Gates showed off an early model about 10 years ago at the International Consumer Electronics Show, and several models from Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard are currently on the market. These are not intended for commercial use, but instead were developed as an all-in-one PC that could be pushed back on its stand so it sits flat on a table. This allows for game playing or group usage, but the idea can easily be ported to what Pizza Hut wants to try.
Pizza Hut is not the first neighborhood restaurant chain to consider removing the server from its eating experience. Chili's and Applebee's have both introduced tablets into their establishments. The concept has drawn the ire of some who believe removing the human component from the equation will make it less enjoyable and possibly eliminate jobs or result in lower tips.
However, the opposite could prove true. According to the chains, customers are served faster, order more and even spend a few extra bucks on the games available on the tablet, no more crayons and tic-tac-toe games to keep the kiddies busy. As for the wait staff, the companies claim tips will go up due to the faster service the tablets enable.