Technology is pervasive in modern life. You can barely turn around without seeing a new gadget being launched. Yet, despite the fact we've been used to technology in environments such as entertainment and retail for years, hospitality has seemingly dragged behind.
That's changing. There are some really exciting tech innovations hitting the restaurant market, whether there to entertain, allow for pre-ordering or speed up service, the result is the same: better customer experiences. Given that we're a nation of experience junkies, I've put together a list of techy restaurants you absolutely must try. The catch? You'll have to get a round-the-world ticket to do so. But hey! That's part of the experience, right?
1) Oshi, Cyprus
While a few restaurants use interactive tables, including Inamo, London, Oshi claims to use the world's most advanced. Its interactive tables use gesture recognition technology to give the customer complete control. Diners can choose from a range of virtual tablecloths, view the chefs at work using the 'Chef Cam' function and access practical services such taxi booking and requesting a waiter.
2) Rollercoaster, Austria
The technology in Rollercoaster is geared towards two things - the speed of service and fun. Entering the venue you notice an abundance of metal rods forming a track around the room. These are your servers; the restaurant promises that the loops, steep turns and corkscrews, driven by gravity, will deliver dishes smoothly to the table.
Like others on this list, a digital menu features at Rollercoaster, meaning human interaction in this high-tech venue is minimal.
3) Six Storeys, UK
Six Storeys by Camm & Hooper, is one of the hottest new bars and restaurants on the London scene. Not only is it leading the way for independent venues with its own mobile ordering app, but it's launched a desk and park delivery service.
After a day packed into a dark office, there's nothing many workers want more than to grab a relaxing drink before having to squeeze onto the commuter train home. At the same time, the idea of pushing amongst the swarming crowds is repugnant, especially in summer. Now, because of Six Storeys they can relax, in the sun or shade on the grass of Soho Square, and have their order delivered to them. Class.
4) Submotion, Ibiza
As with many things in Ibiza, Submotion takes experience to the absolute extreme. So much so you need to watch this video explainer to fully comprehend it.
In short, guests dine in a space that has been engineered to be a 'vivid setting transcending human senses'. A little bit sci-fi, the dining 'pod' sits 12 at a time and takes guests through a journey to stimulate all senses. Transporting diners to different locations and serving Michelin-grade food. This is a restaurant needs to be seen to be believed.
5) Suryawanshi Indiranagar, India
Arguably the most 'high-tech' of the list are the Suryawanshi restaurants in Bengaluru's Indiranagar and Whitefield neighbourhoods. Why? Because owner Kailash Suryawanshi accepts bitcoin as a mode of payment (alongside the usual cash, cards, and Paytm) - that's more high-tech than most consumers yet need. Still, we can appreciate a restaurant that decides to invest in the future at an early stage.
6) Richtree Natural Market, Canada
Richtree Natural Market in Toronto knows how to apply va-va-voom to the dining experience with a holographic hostess, touch-screen kiosks and an interactive play-area.
It's added juice to its ordering and payment with its Richtree Market Pass. This associates with a customer's credit card and is used to pay the final bill (food is chosen from various counters). Passes can also be grouped so that one person pays the whole bill - an excellent idea for working lunches. And, if a parent wants their child to play at being grown up, they can use a wooden pass card to select their meals, while the parent keeps a check on their orders through a smartphone app.
7) Eatsa, USA
Eatsa is a fast food chain in the USA that has swapped humans for technology; there are no waiters or cashiers anywhere. Instead, you have computer kiosks and 'collection cubbies'. This, the restaurant claims, allows an order to be filled and served in three minutes. Within five minutes of entering, you can be eating without having spoken to anyone, just order on the tablet, wait for your cubby to flash, lift the lid and collect.
The restaurant isn't completely without humanity, its menu is said to be driven by diners who are invited to feedback and make ingredient suggestions for future visits.
With the role that technology plays in our lives growing all the time, restaurants like this are likely to grow in popularity so, those that can't afford a round the world trip shouldn't worry. No doubt there'll be a pre-ordering, robot-hosted interactive restaurant featuring automated table delivery coming to a town near you soon.