Tech Innovations

Locl: Enhanced Google exposure

Locl is pouncing on the powerful impact Google Maps is having on the restaurant industry. “Today’s customer journey begins with Google and ends with Google Maps,” the company states in its marketing materials. Portland, Ore.-based Locl works with Google developers to enhance a restaurant’s listing on Google Maps, founder and CEO Joel Siedenburg said.

When diners search for directions, the look of a restaurant’s listing is crucial. Locl works with restaurants to put some “razzle dazzle” into a listing by adding enticing food images. Think of it as web design on the Google platform. Locl also adds entry points for consumers such as links to reviews, online ordering, reservations and menu. The company is built on the belief that a restaurant’s Google listing will soon make their web page obsolete.


Tablee: “Butler” buttons for faster service

. Tablee is a “butler” button concept geared for casual dining, hotels and country clubs. Servers can download the Tablee app to their phone, or pair it to a smart watch. The Tablee device sits on the counter or table. Diners tap the button to send a push notification to a server. The idea is to reduce a casual dining pain point: flagging down a server when you need a water refill, another cocktail or the check.




Elf: Voice-activated robotics

Robot technology is still in the gee-whiz phase. The industry is far from widespread adoption. That being said, Elf deserves some attention. Canada-based Autonetics Universe recently acquired the distribution rights to sell Elf, a cloud-enabled service robot made by Csjbot, a China-based robotics company.

The service robots are widely used in restaurants in Japan and Canada. Unlike Bear Robotics’ Penny, Elf is a voice activated robot that can take orders and talk to diners. Autonetics said the fully autonomous robot can also be programmed for other roles such as food runner, greeter, security guard and cashier.





Dash Now: Tableside payment without the tablet

Dash Now, which plans to launch in July, says tableside tablet hardware is unnecessary because every consumer carries a computer: their mobile phone. Geared for full-service operators, Dash Now is an app that allows diners to use their phones to pay at the table by scanning a QR code listed on a printed check or receipt. Diners can then retrieve the bill and pay.

Restaurants can also get instant feedback from customers. As diners pay, they are asked to rate or review their experience similar to the user interface of ride-sharing and third-party delivery apps.





Tapit: Customized kiosk experiences

Tapit is a new kiosk solution that touts itself as the Wix of kiosks because it provides easy to use templates for restaurant owners to control and design their user interface. (Wix is a do-it-yourself website builder). Tapit, based in Israel, currently works with New Deli, an assembly line quick-service sandwich shop described as the Subway of Israel. The company’s first U.S. customer, Duchess Restaurants, is rolling out Tapit this month at two of its fast-food restaurants in Connecticut.  The brand, like other kiosk providers, maintains that restaurants that use kiosks will see increases in average check. The company said Tapit customers see kiosk check averages grow 11% to 30%.

Tapit is also gearing up for AI deployment. The software will feature targeted upselling based on machine learning of consumer behavior and ordering patterns. “It will know you better than you know yourself,” vice president of international sales Larry Susman said.

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