Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Big Mac Wave - Mickey D’s RFID Initiative

An employee shows a mobile phone attached with a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag reader at a McDonald's store in Shinchon, western Seoul, one week ago, Wednesday. Image Credit: The Korea Times

The Big Mac Wave - Mickey D’s RFID Initiative

Hospitality goes proximity with this new pilot being run at McDonalds stores in Korea.

McDonalds is experimenting with the ultimate line-buster in South Korea, where customers purchase food on their cell phones, which then ring when the order is ready. Most of the phone's communications capabilities and its display are barely used, with customers having to download a McDonald’s application into their phone, and plug a piece of add-on hardware provided by SK Telecom.

Payments can be handled through the cell phone's number (as McDonalds is apparently doing in the South Korea trial) or through an embedded RFID chip, which turns the smartphone into something akin to a contactless credit card.

The add-on used in the trial goes one step further in that it turns the phone into a remote RFID “Touch” order entry device.

Excerpted from The Korea Times –

Hamburger Can Be Ordered Via Mobile Phone
By Cho Jin-seo – The Korea Times Staff Reporter

Good news for those who hate to wait in a queue to get a burger and fries.

McDonald's and SK Telecom Wednesday showed a new ordering system using mobile phones and infra-red sensors which let customers make orders from their table and sends them a phone message when the meal is ready.

The “Touch Order" menu is the first in the world to utilize the radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology in a self-ordering system at a restaurant, SK Telecom said.

“It is a convergence service that utilizes SK Telecom's RFID technology in the restaurant industry," said Lee Joo-sik, senior vice president of business development of the mobile service company. “We hope this partnership with McDonald's, the world's largest restaurant chain, will lay the groundwork for our RFID business on foreign markets."
First, customers have to download a special program onto their handsets using SK Telecom's Nate mobile Internet service. Most phones manufactured after June 2005 can handle the operation, the firm said.

At each table, there are an RFID reader and a menu that has built-in RFID chips. Customers plug the reader into their mobile phones, and point them at the item on the menu that they wish to eat or drink.

The bill is charged through the mobile phone. When the meal is ready, the system sends a short message to the phone so the customer can pick up the ready tray at a designated counter.
SK Telecom has implemented an RFID payment system at several Kyobo bookstores in Seoul. But few have used it to buy books because of the inconvenience of the process.

Reference Here>>

On the surface, this looks to be more of an engineer's dream project as opposed to a practical solution application provided through the convergence of technologies. There just seems to be too many disparate "plug & play" pieces for this to be an advancement of convenience to the consumer.

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