Video: Interactive Restaurant Table Uses Portable Hologram Projector

I spotted this video on Linkedin – a hologram projection thingie touted as being part of the restaurant of the future.

It’s interesting, and perhaps one day this sort of thing would get used somewhere, but there are a few things to reasonably note and ask:

  • The video shows the waiter just plopping this puppy down on the table, and doesn’t show the bit with the guy crawling under the table (what if the women are wearing skirts?) plugging the thing into a wall or floor socket (that probably doesn’t exist).
  • The thing uses a little pico projector and those things don’t tend to pump out a lot of lumens, so the real visuals are probably a lot less vivid and sharp (see this other video from the company, Hololamp).
  • This is a one-to-one concept, which means a busy restaurant would need a bunch of units, and in theory a table for four would need several for ordering (where do they fit on the table and where’s the power coming from?), or one gets passed around, which would be amusing to watch with that power cable knocking over water glasses and other stuff.
  • How many restaurants have the budget to pay for this sort of thing, and why would they? They can do razzle-dazzle digital stuff with iPads, which have batteries, dense pixels and serious color reproduction.

Restaurants have done interactive tables here and there, and it can be cool, but projections from overhead that a full table can see make more sense, and I think they need to have pretty amazing content, like this, to get beyond what would short-term wow factor. Cranky people like me would ask for the real menu.


Video: Screenly, Evrything Mash Up NFC, Smartphones, Digital Signage For Retail

Here’s an interesting little digital signage/NFC technical demo that UK-based CMS provider Screenly put together for its presence with Ubuntu and Evrything at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. 

It shows how a store that already has display infrastructure in place, and already uses NFC on its clothing tags, could make a merchandising screen particularly useful.

Hold your NFC-enabled phone to a tag and it throws a url to the phone. But more to the point, it does a lookup and shows real-time product availability on the item. That happens because IoT provider Evrything is integrated with the inventory back office.

I asked Screenly’s Viktor Petersson how many retailers actually use NFC, and was told Evrything has about 2 billion items under management. “The key here is that many brands already use NFC/RFID in their supply chain, so we are simply re-using what they already have,” says Petersson. “It would of course not be cost effective to implement NFC tagging for this alone.”

The set-up, which runs on Ubuntu Linux and low-cost Raspberry Pis, also supports non-NFC enabled phones “The way we are able to do this is that we have a custom website that people can simply take a photo of the label. We then run image processing on that label to figure out what product it is, and give the customer the same experience,” says Petersson. “The NFC example makes for a cooler demo, but we need to support both.”

You have likely seen something like this before, with holding a phone to an NFC tag at a screen triggering a url to a phone and changing what’s on the big screen. I have seen Capital Networks and Real Digital Media do that. The main difference here is the back-office/IoT integration.