3 Ways New Tech Will Change Our Everyday Experiences in 2014

×
The grand opening of the new Applebee's casual dining restaurant in the East River Plaza shopping center in New York
Alamy
Some common experiences are likely to get makeovers in 2014 -- how you dine out, enjoy a day at a theme park, and even interact with your smartphone. It may not seem that way now, but the year has just begun.

1. Tablets at the Table.

Applebee's turned heads last month when it announced that it would have a tablet at every table by the end of 2014. DineEquity (DIN) -- Applebee's parent company -- has ordered 100,000 touchscreen devices that will allow guests to order from an online menu, play games while they wait for their food, and then pay at the end of the meal without help from a waiter or waitress.

Among the drawbacks inherent to the casual dining experience in our rushed era are having to flag down a waiter to place your order, and then try to get the attention of a waitress to send you the bill. Applebee's will still have a wait staff on hand for those that prefer to go the traditional route (not to mention to bring you your food), but E la Carte's Presto tablets will be at the table to speed things along for those that want it.

Naturally there are benefits for Applebee's. The tablet's website claims that the average customer winds up spending 10 percent more when given perpetual access to a tablet's order screen. Guests also clear out seven minutes earlier, on average, giving restaurants the ability to feed more patrons during the course of the day.

Applebee's is the only major chain to hop on the tablet bandwagon so far, but you can expect that to change if customers begin choosing it over rivals because they relish the high-tech convenience.

2. Making Reservations in Advance to Meet Mickey at Disney World.

One of Disney's (DIS) most ambitious projects began falling into place in 2013 when it began testing MyMagic+ on select resort hotel guests at Disney World in Florida. They were given bracelets allowing them to book ride and attraction reservations before even arriving at the park.

The test will expand to all park visitors this year, presenting guests with the opportunity to prearrange everything from FastPass ride times to personalized character greetings. They can use their smartphones alongside the park's official app to make changes on the fly or visit in-park kiosks.

The goal is to naturally enhance the theme park experience. A Disney vacation isn't cheap. Keeping guests out of long lines makes a trip more enjoyable, and it also increases the chances for merchandise and food sales. Disney also reasons that a more engaged customer will keep coming back instead of checking out rival attractions.

3. Never Leaving Home Without Your Smartwatch.

Wearable computing started to gain traction last year, and this month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas saw many consumer tech companies showing off new smartwatches that do everything from monitor fitness activity to telling you when you've been out in the sun for too long.

The more popular smartwatches are naturally the ones that use Bluetooth to communicate with smartphones. Incoming calls and texts can now be retrieved on your wrist, saving you the trouble of having to fumble through pockets or purses.

Armed with the phone's Web access, smartphones can also run apps, provide weather updates, and even play games.

History will point to 2013 as the year that the smartphone arrived, but 2014 is the year that it will become ubiquitous. It's about time, you know.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Socially Responsible Investing

Invest in companies with a conscience.

View Course »

Forex for Beginners

Learn about trading currencies and foreign exchange transactions

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

14 Comments

Filter by:
Iselin007

dweeb_buster
The labor force isn't shrinking, Gomer.

While the labor force decreased by 374K in Decemeber, it had also increased by 455K in November. Over the last year, it is roughly flat.

We're getting slower growth in the size of the labor force, and as a result a smaller labor force PARTICIPATION RATE because baby boomers are reaching retirememnt age. As a result, the 65 and over demographic is growing 3X faster than the rest of the population. And these people leave the labor force.

A secondary contributor is the historically generous benefit available tot he unemployed. Paying people not to work has this funny way of discouraging them from working.

The fact remains that capacity utilization, total jobs, and retail sales are all growing
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
People are being forced out of the workforce before their retirement age thus they will have to retire even later or work longer once they find another job which is nearly impossible which is what most analysts agree on.

Maybe you use go to epi.org instead of listening to the crap the BLS is selling?

January 13 2014 at 12:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

Most of the capable American techs have been displaced by cheap H1B workers from one particular country.

January 13 2014 at 12:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

dweeb_buster
Just think how much more useful young people would be absent technology.

And old people aren't stuck doing a gin job. They voluntaroly accept or refuse a wide variety of jobs.

-------------------------------------------------------------
Retail is flooded with useless young people at the big box store who can't put their tech devices in their locker while they are supposed to be working.

January 13 2014 at 12:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

dweeb_buster
Probably?

And why would customers have wanted to leave less than the minimum gratuity, whatever the minimum might be?
Finally, why do you keep just pulling such foolishness out of your arse?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The gratuity minumum was 15% of the table's total bill. Perhaps in some places like NYC ot's more.

January 13 2014 at 12:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

Strange in this new tech age more people are working harder for less.

January 13 2014 at 11:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

Expect an automation bubble as more production exceeds demand and outpaces employment. Less consumers with jobs and idle automated devices will be backing up the inventories

January 13 2014 at 11:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
alfredschrader

You can take it a step farther and a heated drone brings it to your table - no gratuity required.
Soon robots are going to be doing everything.
I took three years of Electro Mechanical Technology in 1974. Back then the robots were bowling/pin setting machines and photocopiers.
In about 3 years half of all service work will be done by robots, even mail and garbage collection.
I invented touch screen drive through ordering. You touch the picture including the picture of a cash register when your order is complete. You don't even have to talk - it covers all languages.

January 13 2014 at 10:30 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to alfredschrader's comment
Iselin007

This country won't use robots any time soon in most residential areas for garbage or recylables. I have heard some European countries have robots pick up trash but their limited and not wide spread.
Too many congested areas in the North East and other parts of the USA and too many areas where the robots would be stolen for scrap metal or vandalized

January 13 2014 at 11:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bchrist751

Applebee's turned heads last month when it announced that it would have a tablet at every table by the end of 2014. DineEquity (DIN) -- Applebee's parent company -- has ordered 100,000 touchscreen devices that will allow guests to order from an online menu, play games while they wait for their food, and then pay at the end of the meal without help from a waiter or waitress.

LOSE OF JOBS... You who are pushing MIn wage increases are not helping anyone...

January 13 2014 at 9:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bchrist751's comment
Iselin007

They will probably have the minimum gratuity attached to the Online billing which will annoy the customers who wanted to leave a lot less. Who gets to clean the slimey tablets which no doubt will be coverd in ketcup, syrup, and spilled drinks?

January 13 2014 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

I believe the last paragraph intended to say "smartwatch," not "smartphone ."

January 13 2014 at 8:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mike's comment
Iselin007

More useless young people standing around with these devices while the older people get stuck with the heavy labor.

January 13 2014 at 11:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jimmy_branch

TECH EQUALS GARBAGE

APPLEBEES thinks if people are dumbenough to set around palying games on S_ _tbook then they wil hang out longer and spend more money at the restaurant however the sheep will be so amused they wil not leave and others will not get seated - this will fail fast.

DISNEY - is not doing anything high tech their trying to really work the magic by squeezing in the highest bidder in their dangerously over crowded parks - not good.

So called smart watches were smarter in the 1970's and 1990's a plastic $7 Power Ranger watch does just s much as today's smart watch which is nothing more than the current pet rock.

WAKE UP SHEEP!

January 13 2014 at 8:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jimmy_branch's comment
Iselin007

The $4.95 windup pocket watch by Westclox was better than all this crap. Just don't wear the watch when using a 12 spd/27" because the lens craks when it hit the pavement!

January 13 2014 at 11:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

This is like the stores using larger carts to get you to buy more but unfortunately the idea does not work when your consumers are among the declining middle class .

January 13 2014 at 11:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply