Innovation That Matters

Smart device tells waiting staff when to serve customers

Food & Drink

In Spain, Omni Brain Lab have developed the Owl — a smart device which enhances and monitors customers' purchasing experiences.


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Good service can make or break a dining experience and restauranteurs rely heavily on their waiting staff to represent them with friendly and appropriate service. However, the restaurant floor is often a chaotic and fast moving environment, making it difficult to provide the level of service even the staff themselves aspire to. To help, Omni Brain Lab in Spain have developed the Owl — a discreet, smart device — to help restauranteurs improve communication between themselves and their customers and improve efficiency in hectic hospitality businesses.

One Owl is placed on each table, where it can be used to enhance and monitor the customer’s purchasing experience via a central management application. The customer adjusts the Owl’s position to indicate their needs — whether they’re ready to pay the bill, for example — and the device registers its position and glows different colors. This helps attract the attention of the waiting staff and subtly lets them know how to respond. First time customers download a free app which connects the Owl to their smartphones, and returning customers are reconnected to the device, enabling management to retrieve their previous purchase history and dining habits.

Once connected to the Owl, customers can view the menu on their screen, make their order and share their experience via social media. When they are ready, customers alert the waiting staff that their order is on the way by turning the device to select the waiter icon. The device detects its new position and glows blue. They can also turn the Owl to “do not disturb” mode — indicating to the staff that they wish to be left alone with a white light, and when the time comes to pay the bill, the customer can speed up proceedings by selecting the payment icon.

All of the information is communicated to staff in real time, as well as being catalogued in the central management app, transforming it into valuable data to improve business efficiency. Management can monitor the performance of individual staff and encourage personalized service with frequent customers — through recommendations and adjusted service style.

Of course, enjoyable dining experiences are often down to the personality of the waiting staff and not simply the speed of service, but the Owl certainly has potential to streamline the process and seamlessly provide useful business insights. Plus a glowing blue light is definitely an improvement on the dreaded finger clicking of an impatient customer. Are there other areas of service which could benefit from a high tech makeover?



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