I just got back from a trip to Argentina, where culturally people spend a lot more time dining than we typically do in the states. Since I was on vacation, I enjoyed this slower change of pace but it got me thinking about alternatives to the traditional table service concept. I had heard that in Japan they have a small kiosk fixed to the tables at certain restaurants and cafes where you can order and pay on your own. Imagining that, I wondered what the UI might look like for an actual touch-screen system that might be part of the dining table itself, protected with some type of food and beverage guard and started whipping up some concepts on the flight home.
Here are some designs that show the interaction between engaging the system all the way through adding items to your order. If anyone else has other ideas, thoughts or designs to share just send them along to alex(at)freshtilledsoil.com.