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McDonald's Pilots RFID Self-Ordering System in Korea

The Korea Times reports that McDonald's, the world's largest fast food chain, and telecommunications technology manufacturer SK Telecom of South Korea have teamed on a pilot that allows consumers to order food from their tables using RFID. The system debuted today at a McDonald's in western Seoul.
Sep 13, 2007This article was originally published by RFID Update.

September 13, 2007—The Korea Times reports that McDonald's, the world's largest fast food chain, and telecommunications technology manufacturer SK Telecom of South Korea have teamed on a pilot that uses RFID to allow consumers to order food directly from their tables. The system debuted today at a McDonald's in western Seoul.

Called "Touch Order", it is the first self-ordering system in the world to use RFID, according to SK Telecom. It works as follows. Both an RFID reader and tagged menu are stationed at each table. The customer plugs the reader into her mobile phone, then points it at the items on the menu she wishes to order. The complete order is transmitted to the kitchen, and a charge is made through the phone. When the order is ready, a text message notifies the customer to come pick up her tray at the counter.

One requirement of the system is that a customer download a special interfacing program to her phone. Reportedly most phones manufactured within the last two years can handle the program.

SK Telecom aims for Touch Order to open up other markets to its RFID products and services. "We hope this partnership with McDonald's ... will lay the groundwork for our RFID business on foreign markets," commented senior vice president of business development Lee Joo-sik. The company expects to have expanded to other McDonald's in Korea by year-end and to other chains by next year.

McDonald's appears a little more conservative. John Kim, senior director of marketing for McDonald's Korea, said, "We are closely monitoring it, but it is too early to discuss expanding it to other stores, let alone other countries."

One question is how valuable such a service could be. McDonald's rose to prominence on its quick service, a feature that characterizes it still. Will a table-based self-ordering system really add that much convenience versus ordering at the counter? Could it even turn out to be less convenient, given the need to download a program? Time will tell.

Read the article from The Korea Times
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