Interactive Restaurant Menu — Still in paper form!

Inspired by the LED bookmarks, I thought of how circuits could be integrated into traditionally paper like things. Restaurants menus have been evolving quite a lot, and I experience this culture shock every time I come back to China: they went from paper menu, to ordering from tablets/ipads, to having customers scanning a QR code to order and pay from their phone in the last few years. As much as I appreciate the convenience, I really enjoy the feeling of flipping through a paper menu.

LED bookmark

I understand many pros of having a digital ordering system for the customer end:

    • saves time for servers & the number of servers needed
    • avoid ordering mistakes
    • the order directly goes from customers to the kitchen without going through the servers
    • customers can see how much they will be spending right away

Adapting such system is costly, but the wide adoption indicates that the productivity beats the cost. However, in the US, we don’t really see restaurants that uses digital ordering system for the customers.

Some AR applications are used for restaurant menus, and there is a restaurant in London named Inamo that has interactive table tops. BUT I’m proposing a interactive menu that is still in the traditional paper form but takes advantage of the digital ordering system. 

Say when the customers presses on a dish on the paper menu, the dish he/she want to order lights up. The menu can display how much the customer will be paying. And when the customer finish ordering, he/she hits submit, and the order goes directly to the kitchen. The waiter can then collect the menu away, and the menu will be ready for the next customer to order.

As for components, I think I will need:

    • conductive tape
    • leds (either those flat/sewable leds or some fancier way of lighting things up while maintaining the overall paper like texture)
    • digit display/lcd to display price
    • a “submit” button
    • to select a dish, things that could work: tactile button, switch button, or even faking a button using tape



Hi, I'm Catherine Yu. I'm a senior studying Computer Science with a minor in physical computing. I'm super excited to learn from all of you!

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