Sure, waiters can be distracting. But imagine going to a restaurant and having no need to interact with a single human.
Welcome to the future, as sketched out in a new video by a Tokyo-based tech company. In it, a customer manages to study a menu, order several items, and settle her bill, all without interference from a flesh-and-blood employee:
According to the Recruit Tech website, the technologies on display in the video are all ones that already exist, albeit in early forms: Apple's new, Minority Report-esque indoor tracking device, iBeacon; the XBox application SmartGlass; Kinect; and the many applications developing within the growing field of augmented reality.
It may be jarring to watch the whole solitary experience unfold, but the vision shouldn't really surprise anyone. Last fall, a survey by the American trade publication Nation's Restaurant News made zero waves when it concluded that casual eateries will "continue to push service duties away from people and onto technological platforms such as kiosks, tabletop devices and tablet computers." Another NRN survey predicted that drive-thru lanes will be staffed by multilingual "Siri-like software" by 2020.
Of course, anyone who's been to one of Japan's "mercilessly efficient" automated sushi joints -- where a sushi plate can go for as low as $1 due to reduced costs -- might tell you it's all worth it.