Inspiration

A lot of restaurants cannot meet the customer's demand because of problems with the wait staff. I have seen the problem first hand at my family's restaurant. Training new staff takes some time and ensuring the staff is upto date is also a challenge. The staff needs to be updated with the menu. They need to know all the ingredients and specials and ensure they are able to give the customers a good experience every time. This problem is aggravated at peak times where the demands are high. Tablets have been tested for some time, but from the perspective of the customer it involves some effort and is not as seamless as speaking. Another issue is with language. Everyone is not equally fluent in the same language. Using technology to supplement as a translator just makes sense. So to help restaurants be more efficient, the idea is to use a voice activated ordering system that gives the end user a similar experience of speaking to the waitstaff.

What it does

It is an end to end ordering system where customers can place their orders on the voice activated devices placed on every table. They can easily ask for specials, ingredients, wait times and are able to seamlessly get their orders into the system. The restaurants order management system gets a notification of the order and the details which they can prepare and serve to the customer.

How I built it

Using Alexa skills and lambda functions, python in the backend and javascript, html for the UI

Challenges I ran into

Avoiding calling Alexa to invoke the skill every time before the command is a challenge.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

It is a end to end ordering system that is fully functional and integrable in any existing system and infrastructure.

What I learned

How voice activation can have its pros, how alexa skills can be used, what goes on in building an order management system.

What's next for Winnie - Easy ordering in restaurants

  1. Having a prototype ready, the next step would be to test it and see how receptive users are to it.
  2. Adding multimodal interaction to give visual as well as voice based feedback.
  3. Alexa can support multiple languages. This would be a great feature for customers who are not able to communicate well in the language of that area.
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