National: Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto

First came the automat. Then vending machines. Then nothing for a while. Then, last year, a German restaurant opened that serves food mechanically, via crazy roller-coaster tracks. Now the next phase in food delivery is here, and it is electronic.

Two new over-the-top gimmicks developments have been making the rounds on the Internet lately: London’s Inamo still uses human food-servers, but ordering is done through tabletop screens that double as entertainment portals:

Its big idea is that your table is an interactive screen, where by pointing and clicking you can find your menu, see pictures of each item, and order. The frustration of waggling fingers or tinging glasses to get waiters’ attention is consigned to the same dustbin of history as the night soil men who once disposed of London’s sewage. Waiters become people who flit out of the shadows to place dishes on the table, flitting away again without eye contact.

You can also personalise your décor by choosing from a range of patterns and colours that glow from the table like a Kowloon nightscape. The table can order taxis for you and show you bus maps. You can play battleships with your co-diner, should conversation flag.

But if that’s still too much human interaction for you — faulty air-breathers still have to make and handle your food after all — Japanese beer brand Asahi has you covered with a robotic bartender, creatively dubbed Mr. Asahi:

That’s all fine and good, but it’s a lot like re-inventing the wheel. Until an actual food-pill comes along, you probably won’t find a viable substitute for that carbon-based life-form balancing your tray.

Dining goes digital at Inamo [Evening Standard]
Meet Mr. Asahi: The Bartending Robot [Slashfood]

National: Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto