Monday, June 30, 2008 - Ehud Rattner
Home >> Personal Column >> Innovation
The new restaurant-bar occupies a 7,300 square foot space on the fourth floor of the Hollywood & Highland entertainment complex. It has a welcoming design which features warm dark woods accented by light green walls. Large wall projections throughout the restaurant display revolving dynamic imagery, allowing the restaurant to change vibes at a moment’s notice. uWink Hollywood has several new features that guests will not find at the Woodland Hills, California setting. The iBar, a 12 ft long interactive multi-touch bar, is one of the more significant new features.
This 'ground-breaking' surface literally brings the bar top to life, letting uWink customers use fingers, hands, and drink glasses to conjure digital flora and fauna, digitally paint the bar top, play a game of pong, and ultimately order food and drinks from uWink’s digital menu. Word games, memory games, trivia games, and even the classic Truth or Dare game are designed to encourage friendly competition, laughter, and conversation, and group gamers will love to play Speed Unscramble or Trivia Live against other restaurants guests. You can see a YouTube video which demonstrates the interactive bar in action.
The iBar’s surface was manufactured by Mindstorm, a company that provides such products worldwide. Among Mindstorm’s customers are several major companies such as Microsoft, Google, and BMW. Mindstorm’s solutions allow for a great degree of flexibility in terms of design of both hardware shape and size, and in software functionality. "Our new iBar installation at uWink Hollywood showcases a practical and compelling application of surface technology in a truly exciting retail food environment," said Kenneth Siber, Mindstorm Co-Founder. "Not only will our surface technology add a new dimension to uWink's interactive dining experience, it is a true point of differentiation and we believe it will prove an irresistible draw at the world’s latest and most fashionable venues."
The Hollywood branch of uWink will also showcase new 3D gesture recognition technology from Softkinetic. The gesture-based technology will be featured in a variety of applications including the entrance of uWink's Hollywood & Highland restaurant where guests can play an interactive game using their bodies to control the action. "Softkinetic’s gesture recognition technology is set to transform the way consumers interact with the digital world, and it is a perfect complement to uWink’s interactive restaurant experience," said Michel Tombroff, CEO, Softkinetic. Nolan Bushnell, Chief Executive Officer of uWink, said: "We are excited to be bringing our unique combination of food and fun to this premiere location in the entertainment Mecca of Hollywood; we believe that uWink's lively atmosphere and great food will establish the restaurant as a hot spot for tourists as well as a local favorite."
TFOT has covered other interactive touch-based technologies, such as the interactive paper, which is responsive to human touch (the images displayed can change, or play a sound once a certain area on the surface is pressed), and PICO, a system that allows for two-way interaction between man and machine. Another related TFOT story is the audiopad composer, an innovative control device which helps composing electronic music, by tracking the positions of objects on a tabletop surface.