Island company set to launch technology that supports contactless dining
'You can pay, you can leave whenever you want, and have a contactless experience'
The Island company behind the TopServe mobile app has developed technology to minimize contact in restaurants.
Similar to other food delivery apps, TopServe allows people to order from restaurants online and have food delivered.
Now, the app's creators are set to launch a feature that allows people to order at a restaurant — and pay their bill — through their own mobile device.
"As soon as you place the order, the kitchen is aware," said Nicholas Cameron, the company's founder.
"The staff are aware that the order has been placed at that table, and from there you can pay, you can leave whenever you want, and have a contactless experience while dining inside the restaurant."
Under the province's ease-back plan, restaurants would not be allowed to reopen to serve food inside until June 12. But last week, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said the province was looking at moving that date up.
Product will launch when restaurants can reopen
Cameron expects to select five Charlottetown restaurants for the initial launch of the product — which he said is ready to go, as soon as dining in restaurants is permitted again.
He said mobile ordering through the app is activated by tapping your device on a small piece of hardware on the table, which automatically opens the restaurant menu on your phone.
"We've tested it, it works fine now," said Cameron.
"We are currently redoing our tabletop hardware design so it appeals a little better than our current prototype, but it is ready."
Cameron said the company has been developing the technology for two years now — starting at a time when COVID-19 wasn't on anyone's radar.
'Perfectly timed, in a terrible way'
"It's all perfectly timed, in a terrible way," said Cameron.
"This solution is going to work great now. It's very terrible what's going on, however, luckily for us, we've been developing this regardless of the pandemic, and now it's more needed than ever."
Cameron said it's not about removing servers from the restaurant experience, as servers will still be needed to bring food and drinks, and check on guests — it's about limiting contact, not cutting jobs.
"It's just mitigating a couple of redundant practices, such as going up and waiting for the bill, or sitting at your table waiting for the bill," said Cameron. "Now you can just pay on your phone, get up and leave."
Supporting tourism in Cavendish area
The company has also been hired by the Cavendish Beach Tourism Association to develop technology to support visitors and residents in that part of the province.
The existing TopServe app will be used to help people connect easily with local food, retail and services in the area and hopefully encourage people to spend time there, despite restrictions due to COVID-19.
"It's giving people the comfort that they're still able to go to Cavendish and have the experience they used to have," Cameron said.
"With the comfort that there is a solution put in place that allows as little contact as possible."
He said the project is still in the early stages of development — but estimates it could be completed in the next few weeks.
He said with so much work the company plans to hire two employees as soon as possible, but potentially up to six in the near future.
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