McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) has been testing a system in a Singapore restaurant that turns its tables into virtual playgrounds for children. Now that will be expanded to the rest of Asia, according to CNET.
Daniel Lee, McDonald's director of digital projects for Asia, told a mobile marketing conference that the "Happy Table" pilot test has been successful. The original test will be taken down soon, he said, but the chain plans to roll it out to the region. Lee didn't detail dates or where the technology will be broadly introduced first.
The Happy Table is intended for restaurants where there's no room for a conventional children's play area. Coded electronic NFC tags are stuck to the underside of each table, so when an NFC-equipped Android smartphone is running an appropriate app, the table can be used for a game that involves driving go-carts through McDonaldLand.
Lee didn't say anything about expanding the program outside Asia, but there's no reason it couldn't be. The hardware required for each restaurant is extremely inexpensive—just a handful of NFC stickers for the underside of ordinary tables. The tags cost less than 50 cents each in bulk. The largest initial cost is the software app, which may have to be changed for different regions but should require no changes between, say, a restaurant in New York and one in San Francisco.
Another advantage to using inexpensive NFC stickers for the Happy Table is that they're easy for store employees to check against damage or theft: running a scanner across the table should do that job in seconds. And though Lee didn't suggest it, there's no special reason that McDonald's couldn't sell or even give away sets of the stickers that would let children play using the McDonald's app at home.
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