uWink Makes Eating Interactive

uwinkIn the struggle for eyeballs or butts in seats for all retailers, theater chains and other assorted business that depend on mass traffic, leveraging digital content solutions is on the cusp of an explosion.

Recently, our collegues at the Brand Lab Experience completed the first test of an in theater gaming experience where instead of watching commercials before the trailers, which by the way usually illocits alot of audience hostility, the live game engaged the crowd in some fun group activity which was sponsored by an advertiser.

This weekend i experienced another first; an interactive kiok  restaurant called Uwink.  Founded by Noland Bushness, the founder of Atari Corporation and Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theater (and sometimes referred to as the “Father of the Video Game Industry”), the restaurant features interactive kioks at every table.

When you enter the restaurant, the hostess assigns you an RFID card and escorts you to a table where a kioks reads your reservation name. From there you are treated to a touch screen menu, including gaming and an assorted amount of other digital entertainments. 

For a look at the screen shots, check out my personal blog on the Vox website ( an easy to use personal blog tool by the way).  There were two things that i noticed right away; the place was packed with tweens and teens and parents, and their interactions were fairly quiet and mellow….because the kids were deeply engaged in the content.  Second, i was deeply engaged in the content. I loved that i could go into the menu and remove the red onions and choose my dressing on the side, without having to pull a Meg Ryan on an out of work actor in LA (not that i’m argueing for the removal of live waiters,  there were still people waiting on us, helping us with any questions).   I loved how much fun it was and how it actually gave us more information about the food we were eating, in fact, we did a wine test through the system where the waiter brought us three glasses of wine with numbers on them and the screen pitted us against an expert and asked us all sorts of questions. We learned about the wines while having a great time.

From a business perspective, the implications are tremendous. On one hand, for QSR’s, there is no doubt that adding the interactive kioks will create more of a destination or venue experience and add time spent in the physical location which, in the case of wireless service, has done remarkably well for the likes of Starbucks in sales.  On the other hand, for markerters, the ability to do some contextually advertising within the kiosk experience, and targeting that content based on the venue and demographic being served,  is also high.  Most people are fine about viewing some advertising or even answering a few questions on a survey if they get something in return. 

While there are some UI issues and other things that need to be worked out at UWink, i think it’s a successful endeavor and franchises are avail!

For another perspective on uWink, please see my collegues blog.