Skimbit is lucky enough to have the strategic IT assistance of a friend of mine, Bernie. But Bernie is a busy boy. And besides helping us solve impossible problems and other nifty little things, he also is responsible for the innovative digital interface at brand new Soho restaurant, Inamo.
Inamo is a new type of restaurant, where instead of a waiter with a notepad, you have a table with a nifty laser control panel you navigate yourself. You fiddle a bit on the table with your finger, and you can do everything, from ordering all your food and wine, seeing what it all looks like before you eat it, watch the chefs cook it via chef cam, and most excitingly, change the illuminated virtual tablecloth with a myriad of colours, patterns and photos. Plus you can play games, view local maps, call cabs, and have full control of your bill. For those who hate trying to catch a waiter’s attention, and who find the process of ordering food almost as much fun as eating it, it very much appeals.
Anyway, Bernie has been involved in designing this interface, so for the past few months I have been hearing about all the challenges he faces… things like, is it obvious enough how to scroll down (as he says “I don’t know what else to do other than a large red pulsing arrow!”), is it obvious that ‘Service’ includes your bill, and many more fascinating user experience issues. Inamo has been in ‘beta’ for the past fortnight, offering half price meals while they iron out their glitches. Eager to both support my friend and to take advantage of a bargain, I decided to take the Skimbit team there for a much deserved team dinner.
And boy was it fun! Matthieu would not stop changing the table-cloth on me, it was pink with flowers one second, then blue stripes another, then a ravishing set of umbrella images… quite the whirlwind. Ciaran successfully played a picture puzzle game, and I salivated over every gorgeous image of food that was projected on my plate.
Apparently you get £10 off for each bug you find, but it was a pretty solid system. The only bugs in the system were the staff who perhaps need to seem a little more excited to be part of such a cool new restaurant, but I guess if you design a whole restaurant based around the premise of the superfluousness of waiters, then perhaps they might feel a bit miffed. They still get a 10% service charge though, and it kinda was a bit funny the 7th time they brought us the wrong thing we ordered, but being part of a young overworked company ourselves, we accepted the glitches as growing pains, and have faith it will improve with time.
The food was fabulous though… the chef is ex-Nobu and Hakkassan, Asian-fusion, rich and delicious. I’d recommend it thoroughly, if for nothing else but to enjoy Bernie’s great system design!