From designer Ben Coble comes the Cinch, a restaurant-assisting device that is small, lightweight, and may actually remember that you asked for no onions.
After a summer internship with Motorola, Coble got thinking about the restaurant industry and the mobile applications therein. Perhaps he simply had a really bad steak and a waiter who thought "rare" meant a piece of meat that was really different from all of the others, or maybe he had one too many waitresses pass him by when his water glass stood high and dry - even the icecubes gobbled up for their precious moisture.
Whatever his inspiration, Coble took a look at the restaurant industry, got his hands dirty and did a bunch of research, and then married his braniac genius with currently existing mobile tech that restaurants use.
Sure, it was cool ten years ago when the coaster in your hand started flashing to let you know your table was ready, and you pushed through the waiting Olive Garden crowd, glowing beacon of "sit me the hell down" raised high above your head, your mouth watering with the anticipated saltiness of those glorious, glorious breadsticks.
But now it's 2010, the coasters have gotten old, and the server is still getting your order wrong
Come on down, Ben Coble, and bring that new-fangled thing with you.
What is that thing? Why, it's the Cinch, of course, a small circular device that communicates wirelessly with stations placed around the restaurant - at tables, with the host staff and in the kitchen, and is used to notify servers of important events such as a new table, food being ready to bring out, or the gentlemen at table two requesting another kids maze because "his are all broken and his crayon is too small now." Information sharing FTW.
The technology of tomorrow: yesterday, if these clothes are any indication.
Coble's design includes a rechargeable battery and a display featuring E-ink in an effort to keep the thing running as long as possible. It's lightweight enough that it can be clipped to a belt, worn around the neck on a lanyard, or placed in an apron.
It's also not essential - all restaurant functions would still operate as normal and include the same amount of human interaction - the device would simply allow more information to be available to a server should they want it.
The Cinch would display the nearest table information, or any pending requests or notifications that have come in. Customers could use a table side version of the device to place orders directly with the kitchen or bar, and hosts could let servers know when a new table came in.
Coble's hope is to streamline the restaurant industry, making the ordering, eating, and paying process all the more simple, while not limiting the awkward chatter that most tables get to have with their server.
Sure, robot waiters may be on the way, and technologically advanced wait-o-bots may one day supplant all human life in a restaurant, but for the moment, let's just enjoy the happy medium we've arrived at here between technology and the human touch.
Oh - excuse me. Table 16 needs refills. Pretty sure the tall girl has a thing for me. At least, that's what my Cinch says.