Here’s something I’ve wanted to see ever since my days on the wrong side of the food service counter: a "vending machine" interface to a fast food restaurant. This one has a point-and-click interface (or perhaps it should be called a "see-and-paw" interface, as it uses a touchscreen) that even a five-year-old could use…well, a five-year-old with a credit card, anyway.
This particular machine was installed at the Jack-in-the-Box in Murphy Canyon. According to the San Diego Business Journal, these kiosks were installed in three San Diego locations in December. That two were installed at this particular location isn’t surprising, as the Jack-in-the-Box headquarters and test kitchens are only minutes away.
This has to be a win-win solution for customers and restaurants alike. The customer can place an order exactly as desired, with no possibility of miscommunication due either to an inattentive cashier or an inarticulate customer. The computer’s digital voice is always unflinchingly polite and it never will come in with a hangover, nor will it get irritable at the end of its shift or chat with its friends when it should be working. I assume this will mean that restaurants in the future will all be impeccably spotless, as the remaining employees will have no excuse not to clean the tables and restroom. Unless, of course, the excuse is that they have a self-cleaning restroom. But why stop there? Why not have self-cleaning booths? Of course, periodically heating the entire dining room to five hundred degrees does pose some interesting challenges, but nothing that a little ingenuity can’t fix.