July 02, 2011, 7:45 AM — Ever been held up ordering at a restaurant because someone in your party couldn't decide what to eat? Or maybe you wanted to try something new but you wanted a preview before you commit? A restaurant in London has come up with a simple way or making the menu visually browsable.
Pan-Asian restaurant Inamo now projects its menu onto your table, so you can see a snapshot of each menu item on a plate front of you, before buying. Called the E-Table, projectors hidden in the ceiling reflect the meal and its information on the tabletop.
The table also works as a touchscreen monitor for easy browsing through the menu. The drink and menu choices are pre-loaded onto the E-Table via a specialized content management system (CMS); the CMS also picks the table's background image and other ambiences, but those at the table can choose the theme as well. The system also uses a central server to print orders for the kitchen or the bar. As well as looking at and ordering food, parties can book a taxi, browse nearby neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, there could be a few pitfalls. First, the biggest E-Table can only seat two, which isn't much fun for larger parties. Also, it could make for a pretty bad experience if the technology happened to fail while you were ordering. At least it would give the waiting staff a little more to do, seeing as welcoming diners and handing out menus is no longer required. It's also not a new technology, just different implementation--Ubergizmo notes that a Taiwanese restaurant has a similar setup.
Check out the video to see how the table works. Would you like to see more E-Tables, or do you prefer a waiting service and menu?