When you think of technology being used in a restaurant, you usually think about advances in ordering systems, innovation in supply chains and payment options. But Spanish company B Lab gastronomic is transforming hospitality as we know it, combining art and technology to create multimedia multisensory experiences using the latest technology.
Javier Lasa, Head of Product innovation Multimedia and Mobility at Prisa tecnología (Grupo Prisa) presented a fascinating insight at Codemotion Madrid 2019 into what just might be the future of restaurants in the not too distant future/. We’re sharing some of the key points here but you should definitely watch the presentation – the videos of the interactive dining are really something else that you won’t want to miss!
B-Lab connects different restaurant touchpoints such as smart dining rooms, bartender robots, interactive screening using different technologies such as data analytics, AI, video mapping, sensors, IoT, mixed reality VR/AR to create a unified multilingual platform. They don’t create just a standalone restaurant but are involved across a range of locations creating unique dining opportunities.
Restaurants of the future
Image a restaurant where the walls and tables offer a full sensory experience. The table is not just a table but an interactive table that can be used for gaming, artwork or other forms of entertainment. Sensors and AI track your physiological and emotional responses to create a personalised experience for future visits.
Their GASTRO SHOW merges gastronomy and entertainments throughout a new immersive smart dining room concept where customers nad technology interact with an open smart connected ecosystem into a fully digitalized experience. And what they’ve created is surprisingly affordable. An immersive restaurant hosts 4 to 20 customers in each room for an average 100EUR per customer.
It’s an innovation-first mentality that has enabled B-Lab to not only win international awards but cement themselves as real futurists. According to Javier, they were the first Spanish restaurant to have Amazon Alexa enabled to take reservations.
What technology is involved to make it all possible?
- One server and approximately one station for every two walls plus one per table.
- Projectors: Ultra short lens, LED laser, UHD (4K), 5000 lumens
- Tables with capacities tactile sensors and 40 simultaneous points that can be utilized by four or five people simultaneously
- LED lighting with proprietary electronics
- Smells. Cold mobilization system with own electronics
- Vibrating chairs by BassShaker wireless through proprietary UHF electronics
- RFID/NFC tag readers
- Audio: 6 position multichannel audio system. 4 corners, ceiling and subwoofer.
- Video monitoring and user profiling: IP camera 180degrees in the ceiling for room controlled connected with Google Visio API and sentiment and emotional, image recognition.
“There has been a lot of interest in our work from football clubs. It’s a space that is already using technology to monitor and enhance the customer experience in football stadiums and also for those watching t home.”
Thus they’ve bene able to create customised football-related experiences where customers are able to interact with the table as if it were a football field and move players and the ball around, fans cheers from the stadiums on the walls or they are able to witness footballs highlights as they enjoy their meals.
Enter the robots of the restaurant!
We’ve long been promised a world where robots are able to overtake mundane repetitive tasks currently carried out by humans and complete them with less effort and less time, freeing humans to carry out more interesting work. You’ve probably seen Pepper robot at conference and trades shows or in some train stations in Europe, effectively an interactive, cheerful iPad on wheels that not only sings and dances but can offer directions and answer simple questions.
However, restaurant robots are getting smarter thanks to technological advances. They can count people in room, plan restaurant seating, and serve food.
One of the best know kitchen robots is Moley, the world’s first fully-automated and intelligent cooking robot. It learns recipes, cooks them and clears up after itself! It can mimic the actions of a master chef precisely, bringing a variety of delicious dishes, cooked to world-class standards to the domestic kitchen and other food preparation areas. The system comprises a full suite of appliances, cabinetry, safety features, computing and robotics.
Then, in the US there’s Creator, the San Francisco robot burger restaurant. As reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle:
“The robot’s inner workings are on full display behind a window, like the veterinarian-school technique of surgically inserting a porthole into the side of a cow to expose its guts. As you wait, you can watch as the rose gold- and blond wood-trimmed machine slices, dices and grinds your burger before finally smashing it down and grilling it in a closed-off chamber. There are no wires, mechanical arms, lasers or heavy hydraulic noise: just bright and pretty components being assembled and pushed forward on a rose-gold conveyor belt that flips forward like pages in a book.”
B Lab has installed a number of robots across a range of restaurants. Javier stresses that the aim is not to replace humans “We have 300 employees across 12 locations, we are not going to replace these people with robots but we are going to make their lives easier.” If primary tasks are taken care of, then chefs and other restaurant staff can concentrate on bigger issues.
He explains that a robot can work 24 hours a day, four times faster than a human. This is critical when it comes to mojito making: “We need a production speed of 1500 mojitos every hour. one every 5 seconds. we can’t reproduce this with people”
A smart restaurant on wheels?
B Lab is also working in the autonomous vehicle space with an interest in electric mobility. Their aim is a small bus with its own innovations lightweight, adaptability, maintenance software and driving assistance systems. Each vehicle could include the installation of a robot waiter or cook (or both). Imagine a restaurant where you could order food from home or work and then the restaurant literally comes to you. It tracks your preferences based on previous visits and adjusts the menu according to your preferences. The vehicle could be location responsive and measure air quality and temperature and adapt the menu accordingly. The data could also be sold to third parties.