A different kind of app for Dakota County
Appetizers and Android applications bring entertainment to the restaurant table
by Aaron Vehling
You are sitting at a table in a restaurant, or at the bar of your local watering hole.
You place your meal order on a screen that displays high-res photos and videos of entrees and even dietary information for those meals.
After you place your order, you switch to your favorite news source, talk to some friends on Facebook or maybe dive into a game of Angry Birds.
The technology that allows all of this is a lightweight, wireless tablet computer. A Lakeville man’s company has been bringing these devices to restaurants, hotels and bars, such as the Roasted Pear and the Nicollet Inn, both in Burnsville.
Dan Medin of Positive Results and Touch the Ad said the devices use the Android operating system (similar to many smartphones), and so they can provide business owners with the opportunity to offer scores of entertainment options.
The technology for ordering food via a device at a table is not new, but Touch the Ad’s approach is, Medin said.
“It’s limitless,” he said.
The availability of thousands of apps for the Android platform ensures patrons access to everything from social media and news to games and movies, said Touch the Ad CEO Telly Masse. Using iPads and their iOS (operating system) was not an option because of the closed nature of the devices.
For Touch the Ad to write its own apps for the iOS would have meant overcoming Apple’s highly regulatory app-creation system, he said.Best Buy supplies Touch the Ad with the devices, tablet stands and technical support (via its Geek Squad subsidiary), Medin said. Touch the Ad programs the apps that allow for advertising.
Touch the Ad rolled out the devices at the Roasted Pear on Dec. 30. That tablet displays a full-motion advertisement for a national car maker which then gives way to the user’s content. Therein lies a revenue opportunity for a restaurateur or hotelier.
“The advertising offsets the cost,” Medin said, adding that a restaurant owner could actually earn a profit off the advertising on the devices.
But the technology opportunities extend beyond dining venues – hotel guests could have access to all of the technology listed above, but would also be able to access their Netflix accounts and even plug the device into the television in their rooms.
This is not Medin’s first foray into new technologies. He was previously at the forefront of endeavors into loyalty cards, phone cards and e-commerce. Given this and that he is a Lakeville resident, his success with making the south metro the first market for the Touch the Ad pad is perhaps not surprising.
“Dan has a nose for new technology,” said Stu Dankers, executive director of sales for Touch the Ad. Medin was a natural fit for a partnership of this magnitude, he said.
The company is currently working to bring the technology to sites around the metro, the state and, ultimately the nation. Currently, in addition to the Nicollet Inn and the Roasted Pear, the Holiday Inn in Lakeville also will have the tablets, Medin said.
Beyond the business owner-to-patron or advertiser-to-business relationships, Medin highlighted another aspiration he has for the devices: strengthening a community’s ties.
“Merchants are helping each other out” in a way that will help them compete with big-box stores, he said.
For patrons, the days of lonely drinks at the bar or boring lunches will soon be over.
Aaron Vehling is at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/thisweeklive.