While visiting bars and restaurants, we have witnessed the numerous hurdles faced by customers and owners when it comes to traditional menu navigation and transaction handling. The conventional methods fail to truly engage customers in the ordering process and restrict their ability to express opinions about their overall experience. Therefore, we believe there is immense potential for technology to step in and bridge these limitations. miXRama is a seamless and immersive experience with informative and entertaining value, fosters social feedback, and streamlines billing operations for enhanced efficiency.
Additionally, due to the rising popularity of augmented reality, the idea was sparked to harness this technology specifically for the realm of cocktails.
What it does
Imagine sitting at your favorite cocktail bar, but instead of flipping through a static menu, you target with your phone or tablet the table in front of you. With a simple tap, your table transforms into a digital canvas and an interactive menu materializes before your eyes.
Move your phone around and, right where your device is targeting, the cocktails pop up in all their three-dimensional glory with enticing visuals and detailed descriptions.
For any cocktail of interest, you can delve deeper into the user reviews displayed alongside the cocktail, as well as star ratings that summarize the collective sentiment. These ratings give you an at-a-glance indication of the community's satisfaction level with a particular drink.
As you peruse the reviews and star ratings, you can also contribute to the community by leaving your own feedback. If you've tried a cocktail and wish to share your thoughts, you can rate it and write a brief review directly within the app. This way, you can help future visitors make a wise choice.
When you've collected all the cocktails for your order and it's time to settle the bill, you unleash the power of the Square app. You smoothly navigate the payment process and, if desired, even add a tip to the payment total.
The app displays the selected cocktail(s) quantity, calculates the total amount to be charged and, using Square's encrypted payment processing system, seamlessly transfers the necessary ordering and payment details to the bartender.
How we built it
The app is 100% functional, although there are only four cocktails showing to cater to the demo needs.
It was written in Unity 3D with support for Augmented features from Niantic's LightShip ARDK cross-platform AR framework (thus works for Android and iOS, although only an Android port is tested/provided as of now).
For the ordering and billing process, we relied heavily on the Square API's logic. We limit the amount of data that we're storing to keep things streamlined for merchants. The same logic applies across all categories of our Square integration including Catalog, Orders and Payments.
The interface between Unity and Square is written on the PHP framework and then integrated with Unity's networking API. Unity uses UnityWebRequest class to make HTTP requests to the PHP scripts that are hosted on a local web server.
Challenges we ran into
For this integration, we did have to build our own front-end ordering interface. Although it took some time to grasp the business logic of the Square APIs (e.g. how to handle multiple orders, where to use the unique Ids, where to include tip information, etc), once you get the hang of it, Square is a very comprehensive system to work with from the developer side. The API Explorer was extremely helpful in forming the correct PHP code which we then ported to our own scripts.
What's next for MiXRama
The idea is to extend the app to work for restaurant menus making it a one-stop solution for any dining experience. In addition to cocktails, the app can include a broader range of menu categories such as appetizers, main courses, desserts, and beverages. This allows customers to explore the entire culinary spectrum and make informed choices across the menu.
Also, we consider integrating loyalty programs into the app. Customers can earn points, receive special offers, or redeem rewards seamlessly through their digital interactions.