Digital signage is taking its place at the table — or, more accurately, AS the table.
Pizza Hut has taken digital signage off the wall and put it on the table, literally. The restaurant chain is piloting a new, interactive digital signage tabletop enabling customers to design their pie on their table top, order and then play games while they wait.
A demonstration video seems to show that the table also reads from and responds to customers' smartphones, possibly via NFC, allowing an added degree of personalization — and allowing customers to also pay without ever leaving their seat or talking to a server.
Pizza Hut's announcement comes just ahead of the annual South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, which showcases new technology initiatives throughout a variety of industries. The festival runs March 7-16.
The new technology allows customers to choose the size of their pizza, their crust, toppings, cheese amounts and more, all via their tabletop. The process includes step-by-step visuals to guide the selections. It also enables tableside payment and gaming apps to entertain guests while they wait for their order.
A company spokesperson said Pizza Hut anticipates "possibly featuring the table first in its new concept locations," which are in Pawtucket, R.I., and York, Neb. The company will then determine additional restaurants.
The Pawtucket and York locations opened earlier this year and feature the brand's new "by the slice" concept. The new models are part of the company's "continued push for innovation," according to a news release.
"The dine-in experience is a very important part of our business, and these incredibly fresh, beautiful new locations further advance our desire to provide the best experience possible for our customers," Pizza Hut CMO Carrie Walsh said in the release.
The interactive tables were developed by Pizza Hut's digital partner, Chaotic Moon. They were created to add a "fun element of collaboration for groups — everyone at the table can explore the menu and contribute to the order from wherever they're sitting."
Watch a video posted by Pizza Hut to showcase the new technology, below:
Alicia Kelso /
Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with FastCasual.com, QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.