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Control queues and social distancing: the new goal of restaurant technology

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The basic rule not to contract the COVID19 is to avoid interactions between people. Only in this way can we guarantee that the virus is not transmitted from one to another. So, concepts like social distancing, that at the beginning of the present 2020 they sounded Chinese to us, now it is part of our usual vocabulary.

Social distancing has transcended beyond the media and the recommendations made by organizations that ensure public health. It is foreseeable that we will have to live with the SARS-2 for several years, and therefore businesses have set to work to be able operate safely in this bewildering interval, always with the aim of continuing to offer its services to clients who request it.

This is a complicated question, especially in those establishments where social distancing collides head-on with the behavior of visitors. Restaurants and bars are a classic example, well apart from the drinks, human interactions of all kinds also take place within its walls, including those that are carried out with a proximity considered high risk today.

further, not all the population is equally aware. While some of our fellow citizens strictly observe all the advice issued by the administration, there are those who refuse for various reasons. When one of these people who rebel against the common good enters a business, it becomes the manager's responsibility to enforce current laws, to safeguard the health of others.

As some restaurateurs in our sector have pointed out, this can cause friction with diners. On the last weeks we have witnessed expulsions, warnings, calls to the police to impose order and even massive fines, And a long etcetera. These actions can have a negative impact on the relationship between the professional and the consumer., so many times the businessman prefers not to intervene, and by doing so tacitly you are contributing to the expansion of the coronavirus, the arrival of a second wave and the relevant confinement in which it would derive.

To respond to the reluctance of restaurant professionals, in other countries they have set to work to automate control over harmful behaviors that take place on the premises. This is the case of Finland, where last June opened the first restaurant in the world with a system of queuing control and social distancing based entirely on state-of-the-art technology.

The restaurant in question is the Pharmacist. It is a vinery in vogue where in addition to the best wines you can enjoy other high quality alcoholic beverages, like champagne and the like. Located in the city center of Kuopio, this peculiar place is run by the company Cooperative in PeeÄss operating throughout the Savonia region. Now, the Apteekkari has a new element inside, a complex apparatus that monitors the influx to the premises, movement within it and proximity between people who meet there.

It is a machine known as PeopleCount, a novelty developed by the Dutch brand Philips Professional Display Solutions. The tool allows the restaurant manager to establish limits that adapt to current regulations, and the giant screen of the device, usually publicly oriented, shows the status of the restaurant at all times and issues warnings if necessary. Thus, the restorer is not obliged to communicate such warnings in person, so the friction with the customer is less and the user experience improves compared to other establishments where the machine is not in use.

The operation of the PeopleCount system is not too complex, but it does suppose a clever and inventive application of pre-existing technology in these difficult times caused by the coronavirus crisis. The device works on the basis of an Android operating system on which the application and drivers designed by Philips Professional Display Solutions are installed.. The code receives and interprets the information from a network of smart cameras strategically installed by the establishment, and based on the logic used, issues the aforementioned warnings, either directly to users, case in which there is no interaction with the restaurant staff, or to the person in charge of controlling the entrance and exit of the premises, if there was.

further, the equipment is complemented by various screens, with different sizes available (reaching the 49 inches on the largest model). Thanks to them the updated information in real time will be visible from any part of the dining room, so that diners will feel calm knowing that the rules of limited capacity and social distancing are being met without palliation at all times.

The solution is not only in use in Finland. The Apteekkari is just one of the many restaurants where the system is already in use. It is known that PeopleCount models have also been sold to businesses in the sector in the Netherlands and even in Spain, although their experiences have not transcended in the media. In our country, EAT Europarts is one of the official distributors of Philips PDS and for weeks now the device can be purchased through them.

One of the PeopleCount's greatest strengths is its robustness and reliability. It is designed with prolonged and continuous use in mind, usual in restaurants, bars and entertainment venues where food or drinks are served.

Flexibility is another factor that has been taken into account. The coronavirus crisis is transitory, but since the models are built to last for many years, It is foreseeable that they will end up having a different use than what is currently stipulated. So that, At Philips PDS they have been concerned with integrating a system that allows other types of recommendations, promotions or even announcements on the system screens, and it is foreseeable that in future updates of the software Employee, new tools are integrated to improve the service of the premises depending on the appearance of the customers who access the premises (lonely diners, couples, families, groups of friends…).

In general, It is a versatile and useful tool, which is also armored against possible future obsolescence. In 2020 serves to combat coronavirus, comply with the law, ensure customer safety and regain their trust; but in the future it may be one more tool to enhance the efforts of marketing and loyalty restaurant, or an addition to differentiate yourself from competing businesses. In any case, a great contribution from Philips Professional Display Solutions.

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Article by the editorial team of DiegoCoquillat.com. It has professionals both in the field of hospitality, gastronomy and tourism, and new technologies and innovation.

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