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McDonald's Singapore May Turn Tables Into Playgrounds

The restaurant chain is evaluating the results of its Happy Table pilot, which created a virtual racetrack out of an ordinary table via NFC RFID tags and an app, enabling kids to 'drive' their parents' phones around the track, avoid obstacles and earn points.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 03, 2013

For one month this summer, Near Field Communication (NFC) technology transformed a seemingly ordinary table at a McDonald's restaurant in Singapore into a go-kart racetrack for children equipped with NFC-enabled phones. McDonald's Singapore piloted the NFC-based Happy Table at its Yishun location during July and August of this year, in order to entertain children awaiting food, or those whose parents had not yet finished their own meals. With the system in place, customers' cell phones became cars on a racetrack that was displayed on the phone's screen via NFC tag reads. The children viewed their progress on the phone screen while hovering the phone over the table and following the game's directions to organize a party for characters at McDonaldLand.

Based on the pilot's results—which were positive, according to Daniel Lee, McDonald's director of digital projects for the Asia Pacific/Middle East/Africa region—the fast-food chain is now determining where the technology might be installed in the future at restaurants throughout Singapore, Japan or other parts of Asia.

When a child pushes an NFC-enabled phone across a McDonald's Happy Table, the McParty Run application displays the game's progress on the handset's screen.
Singapore's 125 McDonald's located are faced with a challenge: Although play areas for children are among the more popular aspects of the franchise's restaurants worldwide, space is at a premium on the small Asian island. As such, installing jungle gyms or even a limited play area within a small restaurant is often unrealistic. Therefore, McDonald's has been researching technological solutions that could provide unique entertainment for children while their parents enjoy their meals. One example is a projector providing games that can be played on a wall—similar to a Nintendo Wii game, Lee explains, only much larger.

However, Lee says, the restaurant was also interested in deploying NFC technology. The proliferation of Samsung Android phones with built-in NFC technology, he notes, is quite high in Singapore. Therefore, Lee and his research team began investigating ways in which children could use an NFC application to be entertained by their parents' phones. The resulting game, developed and provided by DDB Group Singapore, was created by attaching several dozen NFC RFID tags to the underside of a table measuring approximately 1 foot by 3 feet.

USER COMMENTS

Alex Smith 2013-12-06 01:49:48 AM
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