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Publication numberUS20070144835 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/706,250
Publication dateJun 28, 2007
Filing dateFeb 15, 2007
Priority dateSep 29, 2004
Also published asCN1332299C, CN1755605A, WO2006034622A1
Publication number11706250, 706250, US 2007/0144835 A1, US 2007/144835 A1, US 20070144835 A1, US 20070144835A1, US 2007144835 A1, US 2007144835A1, US-A1-20070144835, US-A1-2007144835, US2007/0144835A1, US2007/144835A1, US20070144835 A1, US20070144835A1, US2007144835 A1, US2007144835A1
InventorsYing-fu Zhang
Original AssigneeZhang Ying-Fu
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Wireless electronic menu device and ordering system containing the same device
US 20070144835 A1
Abstract
The present invention discloses a wireless electronic menu device, which comprises a menu body and a menu base, wherein a plurality of menus is placed on the menu body; a photo-sensor is used to automatically detect the menu the customer is reading; an induction stylus is pointed to the menu and emits a signal to indicate the coordinates of the position it is pointed to; the menu body collects the related data and transfers the data to the menu base with a wired communication device or a wireless communication device; the menu base retrieves the data corresponding to the coordinates, such as voice, audio, text, image and video data, from its storage device or an external storage device; the menu base presents the multimedia data to aid the customers to acquire meal information and order meals. The present invention also discloses an ordering system containing the abovementioned wireless electronic menu device. The present invention can provide more detailed and consistent meal information for customers to help customers order meals by themselves. Thereby, the present invention can reduce the manpower cost of the food-service industry.
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Claims(32)
1. A wireless electronic menu device, characterized in comprising:
a menu base further comprising a storage device and a second communication device;
a menu body further comprising a microprocessor, a first communication device connected to said microprocessor, a photo-sensation processing device connected to said microprocessor, and at least one photo-sensor connected to said photo-sensation processing device, wherein said menu base and said menu body are interconnected via said first communication device and said second communication device;
an electromagnetic induction device further comprising an electromagnetic induction panel installed on one face of said menu body, an induction stylus, and an electromagnetic induction controller connected to said microprocessor, wherein when said induction stylus emits an electromagnetic signal to induct a specified position of said electromagnetic induction panel, said electromagnetic induction controller can calculate coordinates corresponding to said specified position, and then said electromagnetic induction controller transfers the calculation result to said microprocessor, and the data corresponding to said coordinates can thus be obtained from said storage device; and
at least one menu connected to said menu body and each having a tag used to indicate a food category, wherein one said photo-sensor can detect one corresponding the said tag of said menu and then transfers the detection result to said photo-sensation processing device.
2. The wireless electronic menu device according to claim 1, characterized in that said menu base further comprises an audio-video output device which can output the audio-video data of said menus.
3. The wireless electronic menu device according to claim 2, characterized in that said audio-video output device further comprises a display device, a speaker, an earphone interface device, and an operating device installed on said menu base and used to operate said audio-video output device.
4. The wireless electronic menu device according to claim 1, characterized in that a status indicating unit is installed on said menu base and used to indicate the operational status of said wireless electronic menu device.
5. The wireless electronic menu device according to claim 4, characterized in that said status indicating unit is a connectivity status indicator used to indicate the connectivity status between said first communication device and said second communication device.
6. The wireless electronic menu device according to claim 5, characterized in that said connectivity status indicator is a light-emitting diode or a liquid crystal display.
7. The wireless electronic menu device according to claim 1, characterized in that said menu base further comprises a plurality of functional keys, including a promotion key, an ordering key, a service key, a checkout key, and a total price key.
8. The wireless electronic menu device according to claim 1, characterized in that either of said first communication device and said second communication device is a wired communication device, a wireless Bluetooth device or an infrared communication device.
9. The wireless electronic menu device according to claim 1, characterized in that a status indicating device is installed on said menu body and used to indicate the operational status of said wireless electronic menu device.
10. The wireless electronic menu device according to claim 9, characterized in that said status indicating device further comprises a table number/connectivity indicator used to indicate the connectivity status between said menu body and the corresponding said menu base.
11. The wireless electronic menu device according to claim 10, characterized in that said table number/connectivity indicator is a light-emitting diode or a liquid crystal display.
12. The wireless electronic menu device according to claim 1, characterized in that said electromagnetic induction device is an electromagnetic digitizer.
13. The wireless electronic menu device according to claim 1, characterized in that said photo-sensor is a reflective photo-sensor.
14. The wireless electronic menu device according to claim 1, characterized in that said menu body further comprises a clipper used to, hold said menus.
15. The wireless electronic menu device according to claim 1, characterized in that the material of said menus allows said electromagnetic induction panel to sense the signal emitted by said induction stylus.
16. An ordering system, characterized in comprising:
a wireless electronic menu device according to claim 1;
a third communication device installed in said menu base of said wireless electronic menu device;
a local area network accessing device, wherein said wireless electronic menu device is linked to a local area network via said third communication device and said local area network accessing device; and
a service terminal further comprising at least one network interface device used to link to said local area network to interact with said wireless electronic menu device.
17. The ordering system according to claim 16, characterized in that said menu base further comprises an audio-video output device which can output the audio-video data of said menus.
18. The ordering system according to claim 17, characterized in that said audio-video output device further comprises a display device, a speaker, an earphone interface device, and an operating device installed on said menu base and used to operate said audio-video output device.
19. The ordering system according to claim 16, characterized in that a status indicating unit is installed on said menu base and used to indicate the operational status of said wireless electronic menu device.
20. The ordering system according to claim 19, characterized in that said status indicating unit further comprises a connectivity status indicator used to indicate the connectivity status between said first communication device and said second communication device, and a communication status indicator used to indicate the communication status between said third communication device and said local area network accessing device/said service terminal.
21. The ordering system according to claim 20, characterized in that either of said connectivity status indicator and said communication status indicator is a light-emitting diode or a liquid crystal display.
22. The ordering system according to claim 16, characterized in that said menu base further comprises a plurality of functional keys, including a promotion key, an ordering key, a service key, a checkout key, and a total price key.
23. The ordering system according to claim 16, characterized in that a status indicating device is installed on said menu body of said wireless electronic menu device and used to indicate the operational status of said wireless electronic menu device.
24. The ordering system according to claim 23, characterized in that said status indicating device further comprises a table number/connectivity indicator used to indicate the connectivity status between said menu body and the corresponding said menu base.
25. The ordering system according to claim 24, characterized in that said table number/connectivity indicator is a light-emitting diode or a liquid crystal display.
26. The ordering system according to claim 16, characterized in that either of said first communication device and said second communication device is a wired communication device, a wireless Bluetooth device or an infrared communication device.
27. The ordering system according to claim 16, characterized in that said electromagnetic induction device is an electromagnetic digitizer.
28. The ordering system according to claim 16, characterized in that said photo-sensor is a reflective photo-sensor.
29. The ordering system according to claim 16, characterized in that said menu body further comprises a clipper used to hold said menus.
30. The ordering system according to claim 16, characterized in that the material of said menus allows said electromagnetic induction panel to sense the signal emitted by said induction stylus.
31. The ordering system according to claim 16, characterized in that said service terminal further comprises a storage device used to store the multimedia data needed by said wireless electronic menu device.
32. The ordering system according to claim 16, characterized in that said third communication device is a wired network communication device or a wireless network communication device, and said local area network accessing device is a wired local area network accessing device or a wireless local area network accessing device.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a wireless electronic menu device and an ordering system containing the same device.

2. Description of the Related Art

With the population of wireless networks, all the various professions zealously utilize information technology and wireless communication to reduce manpower cost and promote customers' satisfaction.

In the food-service industry, the general e-business solution is that a waitperson takes a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant), which is cooperated with a computer management system, to order meals for customers; thereby, the time of waiting for meals to be served is shortened, and the utilization rate of dining tables is increased.

However, such a solution has the following problems:

  • 1. As PDA has a small screen, a complicated operating steps and a high price and is easy to drop, wireless PDA meal-ordering devices are not operated by customers but by waitpersons. Consequently, the objective of reducing manpower cost is not achieved in the solution.
  • 2. The interaction between waitpersons and customers in the solution does make no progress. Customs still have to read traditional paper-based menus and ask waitpersons about the special meal of the day, the special offers, etc. Consequently, customers are less likely to learn the contents of the menu leisurely before they order meals. Thus, customers' satisfaction is not effectively promoted in the solution.
  • 3. The cooking description, such as the cooking style, cooking procedures, calorie and flavor, needs narrating by waitpersons. As a matter of fact, the employees of the food-service industry are usually part-time workers and have a high labor turnover rate. They are hard to effectively accumulate the professional knowledge of food and drink. Consequently, different waitpersons have different descriptions of food and drink. Sometime waitpersons cannot answer the questions.
  • 4. In the solution, customers can neither review the contents of the ordered meals nor preview the total price and the total calorie of ordered meals.
  • 5. As PDA's do not stay with customers, the incidental services during dining, such as cutleries, paper towels, seasonings, or free beverages, usually cannot be timely served.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The objective of the present invention is to provide a wireless electronic menu device to overcome the abovementioned problems.

The objective of the present invention is realized with a scheme of a wireless electronic menu device, which comprises the following components:

a menu base further comprising a storage device and a second communication device;

a menu body further comprising a microprocessor, a first communication device connected to the microprocessor, a photo-sensation processing device connected to the microprocessor, and at least one photo-sensor connected to the photo-sensation processing device, wherein the first communication device and the second communication device interconnect the menu base and the menu body;

an electromagnetic induction device further comprising an electromagnetic induction panel installed on one surface of the menu body, an induction stylus, and an electromagnetic induction controller connected to the microprocessor, wherein the induction stylus emits an electromagnetic signal to induct a specified position on the electromagnetic induction panel, and the electromagnetic induction controller calculates the coordinates corresponding to the specified position and transfers the coordinates to the microprocessor, and then the microprocessor obtains the data corresponding to the coordinates from the storage device; and

at least one menu connected to the menu body and each having a tag used to indicate a food category, wherein one the photo-sensor can detect one corresponding the tag of the menu, and then transfers the detection result to the photo-sensation processing device.

In one embodiment of the wireless electronic menu device of the present invention, the menu base further comprises an audio-video output device able to output the audio-video data of the menus. The audio-video output device further comprises a display device, a speaker and an earphone interface device. The audio-video output device may further comprise an operating device installed on the menu base and used to operate the audio-video output device.

In another embodiment of the wireless electronic menu device of the present invention, the menu base further comprises a status indicating unit used to indicate the operating status of the wireless electronic menu device. The status indicating unit further comprises a connectivity status indicator used to indicate the connectivity status between the first communication device and the second communication device, and the connectivity status indicator is a light-emitting diode or a liquid crystal display.

In yet another embodiment of the wireless electronic menu device of the present invention, the menu base further comprises a plurality of functional keys, and the functional keys include a promotion key, an ordering key, a service key, a checkout key and a total price key.

In still another embodiment of the wireless electronic menu device of the present invention, either of the first communication device and the second communication device is a wired communication device, a wireless Bluetooth device or an infrared communication device.

In further another embodiment of the wireless electronic menu device of the present invention, the menu body further comprises a status indicating device used to indicate the operating status of the wireless electronic menu device. The status indicating device further comprises a table number/connectivity indicator used to indicate the connectivity status between the menu body and the corresponding menu base, and the table number/connectivity indicator is a light-emitting diode or a liquid crystal display.

In further another embodiment of the wireless electronic menu device of the present invention, the electromagnetic induction device is an electromagnetic digitizer, and the photo-sensor is a reflective photo-sensor.

In further another embodiment of the wireless electronic menu device of the present invention, the menu body further comprises a clipper used to hold the menus.

In further another embodiment of the wireless electronic menu device of the present invention, the material of the menus allows the electromagnetic induction panel to sense the signal emitted by the induction stylus.

The present invention also proposes an ordering system, which comprises the following components:

a wireless electronic menu device as that mentioned above;

a third communication device installed in the menu base of the wireless electronic menu device;

a local area network accessing device, wherein the wireless electronic menu device is linked to a local area network via the third communication device and the local area network accessing device; and

a service terminal further comprising at least one network interface device to connect with the local area network to interact with the wireless electronic menu device.

In one embodiment of the ordering system of the present invention, the menu base further comprises an audio-video output device able to output the audio-video data of the menus. The audio-video output device further comprises a display device, a speaker and an earphone interface device. The audio-video output device may further comprise an operating device installed on the menu base and used to operate the audio-video output device.

In another embodiment of the ordering system of the present invention, the menu base further comprises a status indicating unit used to indicate the operating status of the wireless electronic menu device. The status indicating unit further comprises a connectivity status indicator and a communication status indicator, wherein the connectivity status indicator is used to indicate the connectivity status between the first communication device and the second communication device, and the communication status indicator is used to indicate the communication status between the third communication device and the local area network accessing device/the service terminal. Either of the connectivity status indicator and the communication status indicator is a light-emitting diode or a liquid crystal display.

In yet another embodiment of the ordering system of the present invention, the menu base further comprises a plurality of functional keys, and the functional keys include a promotion key, an ordering key, a service key, a checkout key and a total price key.

In still another embodiment of the ordering system of the present invention, the menu body further comprises a status indicating device used to indicate the operating status of the wireless electronic menu device. The status indicating device further comprises a table number/connectivity indicator used to indicate the connectivity status between the menu body and the corresponding menu base, and the table number/connectivity indicator is a light-emitting diode or a liquid crystal display.

In further another embodiment of the ordering system of the present invention, either of the first communication device and the second communication device is a wired communication device, a wireless Bluetooth device or an infrared communication device.

In further another embodiment of the ordering system of the present invention, the electromagnetic induction device is an electromagnetic digitizer, and the photo-sensor is a reflective photo-sensor.

In further another embodiment of the ordering system of the present invention, the menu body further comprises a clipper used to hold the menus.

In further another embodiment of the ordering system of the present invention, the material of the menus allows the electromagnetic induction panel to sense the signal emitted by the induction stylus.

In further another embodiment of the ordering system of the present invention, the service terminal further comprises a storage device used to store the multimedia data that the wireless electronic menu device needs.

In further another embodiment of the ordering system of the present invention, the third communication device is a wired network communication device or a wireless network communication device, and the local area network accessing device is a wired local area network accessing device or a wireless local area network accessing device.

The present invention has the following novel efficacies:

  • 1. Customers can order completely by themselves via the operating interface provided by the present invention, which resembles the traditional paper-based menu;
  • 2. The audio-video output device can provide multi-linguistic texts, audio and video to customers for food information;
  • 3. Customers can review the contents of ordered meals and preview the total price from the display device of the present invention;
  • 4. Customers can call waitpersons to provide incidental services via the calling device of the present invention, and the waitpersons can inform customers of the processing status of their demands via the service terminal of the present invention; and
  • 5. The menu of the present invention may have a format for customers' satisfaction investigation to improve skills of the restaurant management.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a detached view schematically showing the separation of the menu body and menu base according to the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an integrated view schematically showing the assemblage of the menu body and menu base according to the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3A is a top view schematically showing the menu base according to the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3B is a rear view schematically showing the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3C is a bottom view schematically showing the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram schematically showing the circuit design of the menu base according to the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is an illustrated diagram schematically showing the main function of the menu body according to the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6A is a diagram schematically showing the menu according to the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6B is a diagram schematically showing the menu contents according to the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a block diagram schematically showing the circuit design of the menu body according to the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a flowchart showing the process of constructing a menu and storing data in the storage device or the external storage device according to the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a diagram schematically showing the instruments needed in constructing a menu and storing data in the storage device or an external storage device according to the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a diagram schematically showing the service terminal according to the second embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a diagram schematically showing the ordering system according to the second embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In cooperation with the attached drawings, the preferred embodiments are used to demonstrate the technical schemes of the present invention below. However, the preferred embodiments are not to limit the scope of the present invention but only to exemplify the present invention.

Refer to FIG. 1. In the first embodiment, the wireless electronic menu device 100 of the present invention comprises a menu body 102 and a menu base 104, and the menu body 102 is detachable from the menu base 104. The menu body 102 and the menu base 104 respectively have a first communication device and a second communication device for the wireless communication therebetween, which are a wireless transceiver 110 a and a wireless transceiver 110 b respectively. Either of the wireless transceiver 110 a and the wireless transceiver 110 b is a wireless Bluetooth device or an infrared communication device. The first communication device and the second communication device may alternatively be wired communication devices. The menu base 104 has a power interface device 108, which can be connected to an external power source to provide power for the menu body 102 and the menu base 104.

The appearances of the menu body 102 and the menu base 104 may be designed to be an arbitrary shape according to the practical requirements. The menu base 104 may be fixed to a table or imbedded in a table. Alternatively, the menu base 104 may be portable and placed on the table for usage.

Refer to FIG. 2. The menu body 102 and the menu base 104 may be combined together during usage. In such a case, the menu body 102 communicates with the menu base 104 via the communication interface devices 106 a and 106 b. The communication interface devices 106 a and 106 b may also function as charging interfaces, via this interface the menu base 104 can charge the menu body 102. The menu body 102 has a clipper 112 to hold a plurality of menus 114. The present invention adopts an induction stylus 116, which can emit an electromagnetic signal. Due to electromagnetic signal can pass through a non-conductive material, the electromagnetic signal emitted by the induction stylus 116 can penetrate the plurality of menus 114, therefore the coordinates of the position pointed to by the induction stylus 116 can thus be determined. The menu base 104 may also have an insertion hole 118 for accommodating the induction stylus 116.

Refer to FIG. 3A a top view schematically showing the menu base 104 according to the first embodiment of the present invention. The menu base 104 has a display device 120 and operating keys 126 for the display device 120. The display device 120 may be a liquid crystal display. The user can operate the operating keys 126 to see the texts, images, or video for his convenience. The operating keys 126 may be Up and Down navigation keys used to page-up/page-down the presented information, such as the promotion information, the cooking style of the meals, the total price of the ordered meal, or the preparing status of the ordered meal The display device 120 may present information with different languages to meet the requirement of foreign travelers. The display device 120 may cooperate with a speaker 122 to present information by multimedia. According to the practical requirements, a plurality of functional keys 124 may be installed on the menu base 104. For example, service key, total price key, promotion key. Customers can press the service key to call waitpersons and ask services. After customers have ordered, they may press the total price key to preview the total price of the ordered meals. Customers may press the promotion key to learn the promotion activities of the restaurant from the display device 120 and the speaker 122. The menu base 104 also has a status indicating unit 128 to indicate customers the operational status. The status indicating unit 128 may include a power indicator, a connectivity status indicator and a meal-preparation indicator. The power indicator indicates the power status of the menu base 104. The connectivity status indicator indicates the connectivity status between the menu base 104 and the menu body 102. The meal-preparation indicator cooperates with the display device 120 and the speaker 122 to inform the customer that his meal has been cooked well for taking out. The status indicating unit 128 may also be a connectivity status indicator used to indicate the connectivity status between the first communication device and the second communication device. The connectivity status indicator may be a light-emitting diode. Alternatively, the connectivity status indicator may be a liquid crystal display, and different signs are alternately presented on the liquid crystal display to indicate the corresponding connectivity statuses, wherein the liquid crystal display may also be used by the display device 120 simultaneously.

The abovementioned ordering device of the present invention can take charge of all the ordering tasks traditionally performed by waitpersons. Further, via the functional keys, customers can learn the information of the cooking methods of the food items by the multimedia style, which is a task that waitpersons are hard to undertake. Thus, service strength is increased, and the manpower used in the dining area is decreased. It is to be noted that one functional key can be arbitrarily assigned to a specified service, and that the services that the functional keys are assigned to are not limited to those mentioned above. Similarly, the events of the status indicating unit 128 can indicate are not limited to the cases mentioned above.

Refer to FIG. 3B, a rear view schematically showing the first embodiment of the present invention. An earphone interface device 130 may be installed on one lateral side of the menu base 104, and the user can listen to audio with an earphone lest noise interfere. The menu base 104 may also have a programmer/charger interface device 132. In the present invention, multimedia data are stored in an erasable storage device (to be introduced thereinafter), and data can be directly programmed into the storage device via the programmer/charger interface device 132 without disassembling the menu base 104. In the present invention, a rechargeable battery may be built in the menu base 104 to support the portability of the menu base 104; in such a case, the programmer/charger interface device 132 will function as a charging interface.

Refer to FIG. 3C. A storage medium socket 136 may be arranged on the bottom of the menu base 104, and an erasable storage device may be plugged in the storage medium socket 136. In other words, the erasable storage device may be fixedly installed inside the menu base 104 or detachable from the menu base 104. When the erasable storage device is detachable, the data can be renewed via replacing the original storage device with a new storage device.

Refer to FIG. 4 a block diagram schematically showing the circuit design of the menu base according to the first embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 4, the menu base 104 comprises a first microprocessor 200; a digital signal processing device 202 connected to the first microprocessor 200 and accepting the instructions from the first microprocessor 200 to obtain the multimedia data stored in a storage device and processing the data into the signals suitable for the display device 120 and the speaker 122; a display device 120 plus a speaker 122 connected to the digital signal processing device 202; a storage device 204 connected to the digital signal processing device 202 as well as the first microprocessor 200 and storing the multimedia data, wherein the storage device 204 is an erasable memory, and the multimedia data stored in the storage device 204 can be changed according to-the practical requirements; a wireless transceiver 110 b used to perform a bidirectional wireless communication between the menu base 104 and the menu body 102; a communication interface device 106 b implementing the physical connection between the menu base 104 and the menu body 102; a status indicating unit 128 connected to the first microprocessor 200 and used to indicate operating statuses; a plurality of operating keys 126 connected to the first microprocessor 200 and used to handle the message showed on the display device 120; a plurality of functional keys 124 connected to the first microprocessor 200 and used to provide the services defined by the requirements; a programmer/charger interface device 132 connected the first microprocessor 200 and used to program data into the storage device 204; and a power interface device 108 used to provide power for the menu base 104.

Refer to FIG. 5, an illustrated diagram schematically showing the main function of the menu body according to the first embodiment of the present invention. The menu body 102 has a clipper 112 used to hold together a plurality of menus 114. All the menus 114 are arranged on the surface 514 of the menu body 102, and the surface 514 is commonly made of a plastic material. Each menu 114 has a dedicated tag 504. The dedicated tag 504 describes the brief content of the corresponding menu 114. Further, the dedicated tag 504 can also inform the second microprocessor 506 inside the menu body 102 which menu 114 the customer is reading.

On the surface 514 of the menu body 102, photo-sensors 502 are respectively installed at the positions corresponding to the tags 504 of all the menus 114. The photo-sensor 502 can emit a signal, such as an infrared signal. The signal will be reflected by a barrier and detected by the photo-sensor 502. The photo-sensor 502 may be a reflective photo-sensor or a close proximity detection device. When the photo-sensor 502 detects the reflected signal, the detection result will be transferred to a photo-sensation processing device 508 and then to the second microprocessor 506. Thereby, which menu 114 the customer is reading can be determined according to whether a specified photo-sensor 502 receives the reflected signal emitted by the photo-sensor 502 itself.

In this embodiment, the menus 114 are turned over with the top side being the pivotal axis. When the tags 504 of all the menus 114 respectively cover their corresponding photo-sensors 502, all the photo-sensor 502 receive the reflected signals, and the detection result will be transferred to the photo-sensation processing device 508 and then to the second microprocessor 506, and the second microprocessor 506 will thus determine that the customer is reading the first menu 114. When the customer has turned over the first menu 114 and is reading the second menu 114, all the photo-sensors 502 receive the signals reflected from their corresponding tags 504 except the photo-sensor 502 corresponding to the tag 504 of the first menu 114, and the detection result will be transferred to the photo-sensation processing device 508 and then to the second microprocessor 506, and the second microprocessor 506 will thus determine that the customer is reading the second menu 114. It is to be noted that the menus 114 may also be turned over with another side being the pivotal axis, and the abovementioned determination method still works.

In this embodiment, an electromagnetic induction panel 512 and an electromagnetic induction controller 510 are interconnected and installed inside the menu body 102. An induction stylus 116, which can emit an electromagnetic signal, is used to point to the menu-contents field (to be introduced thereinafter). Due to electromagnetic signal can penetrate non-conductive materials, such as paper and plastic, the electromagnetic signal emitted by the induction stylus 116 will pass through the plurality of menus 114 as well as the surface 514 of the menu body 102 and reach the electromagnetic induction panel 512. After the electromagnetic induction panel 512 detects the electromagnetic signal, the signal will be transferred to the electromagnetic induction controller 510. The electromagnetic induction controller 510 can thus determine the coordinates corresponding to the position the induction stylus 116 is pointing to. The induction stylus 116, the electromagnetic induction panel 512 and the electromagnetic induction controller 510 may be realized with the electromagnetic digitizer technology or a similar technology.

As shown in FIG. 6A, a plurality of menus 114 is stacked together, and each menu 114 has a tag 504 designating a food category. All the area of one menu 114 belongs to a menu-contents field 600 except the area of its tag 504.

Refer to FIG. 6B, the menu-contents field 600 includes a plurality of food items, and each food item further comprises an item name region 622, an item description region 623, an item video region 624 and an item option region 625. The user may arrange the contents of the menu-contents field 600 according to his need. For example, he may arrange a question-statement region and an answer-selection region for customers' satisfaction investigation. Refer to FIG. 5 and FIG. 6A. Each of the item name region 622, item description region 623, item video region 624 and item option region 625 corresponds to at least one set of coordinates on the electromagnetic induction panel 512. The menu body 102 transfers the coordinates to the menu base 104, and the coordinates will be correlated to a piece of data stored in the storage device 204 of the menu base 104. It is to be noted that the material of the menus 114 should allow the signal emitted by the induction stylus 116 to pass through, such as paper or plastic. Thus, the electromagnetic induction panel 512 can detect the signal emitted by the induction stylus 116.

The name of a dish, a dessert, or a coffee is usually printed on the item name region 622 with text. When the induction stylus 116 points to the item name region 622, the display device 120 will present the text of the name, and the speaker 122 may also voice the name.

The item video region 624 is presented on the menu-contents field 600 with text or a figure. When the induction stylus 116 points to the item video region 624, easy-to-understand and vivid visual information, such as pictures or video, will be replayed on the display device 120 to demonstrate the specific food item of the item name region 622. The item option region 625 is also presented on the menu-contents field 600 with texts or figures. Via the item option region 625, the customer can determine the size, quantity, flavor, cooking temperature and completes the ordering procedures. When the induction stylus 116 points to the item description region 623, the cooking style, cooking procedures, materials, calorie, flavor, nutrition ingredients, effects to health, etc. of the food item corresponding to the item name region 622 will be presented with multimedia.

Refer to FIG. 7 a block diagram schematically showing the circuit design of the menu body according to the first embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 7, the menu body 102 comprises a second microprocessor 506, a communication interface device 106 a, at least one photo-sensor 502, a photo-sensation processing device 508, a wireless transceiver 110 a, an electromagnetic induction device 704, a status indicating device 708, and a power supply device 710.

Refer to FIG. 1 again. The communication interface device 106 a is arranged at the bottom of the menu body 102 and used to implement a wired bi-directional data exchange with the menu base 104 and get the power supplied by the menu base 104. The communication interface devices 106 a and 106 b may be standard serial communication devices, such as RS232, USB, UART, etc., or standard parallel communication devices.

Refer to FIG. 1 again. The wireless transceiver 110 a is installed in the menu body 102 and used to implement a short-distance wireless bi-directional data exchange with the menu base 104. The wireless transceivers 110 a and 110 b may be infrared communication devices or wireless Bluetooth devices. When the wireless transceivers 110 a and 110 b are wireless Bluetooth devices, a plurality of bodies 102 may simultaneously communicate with an identical menu base 104. Thus, several customers can order simultaneously. Further, the menu body 102 can present data with different languages, and the customers of different countries can thus read the restaurant information with their own mother languages.

The electromagnetic induction device 704 includes an induction stylus 116, an electromagnetic induction controller 510 and an electromagnetic induction panel 512.

Refer to FIG. 1 again. The status indicating device 708 includes a battery power indicator, which is arranged on the menu body 102 and used to indicate the power strength of the battery, and a table number/connectivity indicator, which is used to indicate whether the menu body 102 is communicating with the menu base 104. The battery power indicator and the table number/connectivity indicator are light-emitting diodes or liquid crystal displays. When they are liquid crystal displays, different signs are used to indicate different connectivity statuses. Besides, the meanings of the status indicators may be defined according to the practical requirements.

The power supply device 710 is arranged inside the menu body 102. As shown in FIG. 1, the menu body 102 is detachable from the menu base 104. The power supply device 710 may be a rechargeable battery.

Refer to FIG. 8 a flowchart showing the process of constructing a menu and storing data in the storage device or the external storage device according to the first embodiment of the present invention. Refer to FIG. 9 a diagram schematically showing the instruments needed in constructing a menu and storing data in the storage device or an external storage device according to the first embodiment of the present invention, and refer to FIG. 4, FIG. 5, FIG. 6A and FIG. 6B again. Below is to be described the process of constructing a menu and storing data in the storage device or the external storage device.

In Step 800, via a computer program, the texts and figures needed by the menu-contents field 600 of the menu 114 are input and linked to the coordinates of the electromagnetic induction panel 512, to construct the correlation between the multimedia data and the positions on the menu-contents field 600. Next, Step 802, Step 804 and Step 806 are undertaken. In Step 802, a microphone 82 of a digital audio recording device 86 is used to record the related voice or audio. In Step 804, a digital camera 84 is used to collect the pictures to be output by the display device 120 of the menu base 104. In Step 806, a digital video camera 85 is used to record the video to be output by the display device 120 of the menu base 104. After Step 802, Step 804 and Step 806 are completed, Step 810 follows.

In Step 808, the text and figures needed by the menu-contents field 600 are printed to obtain the menu 114 with an external printer 96 connected to a personal computer 88.

In Step 810, via a programmer/charger device 94 which is powered by an AC/DC converter 92, the personal computer 88 communicates to the programmer/charger interface device 132 of the menu base 104 and stores the multimedia data into the storage device 204. Thereby, the coordinates of the electromagnetic induction panel 512 corresponding to the text or the figures of the item name regions 622, item description regions 623, item video regions 624 and item option regions 625 of one menu-contents field 600 are correlated with the multimedia data stored in the storage device 204, and the construction of one menu 114 is thus completed. Other menus 114 are also constructed similarly

Refer to FIG. 10 and FIG. 11 diagrams respectively schematically showing the service terminal and the ordering system according to the second embodiment of the present invention. According to the second embodiment, the ordering system of the present invention comprises a wireless electronic menu device 20, a service terminal 70 and a Wireless LAN (Local Area Network) accessing device 98.

Based on the wireless electronic menu device 100 of the first embodiment, the wireless electronic menu device 20 of this embodiment further has the following characteristics:

  • 1. The wireless electronic menu device 20 of this embodiment has a communication status indicator used to indicate the communication status between the wireless electronic menu device 20 and the service terminal 70/Wireless LAN accessing device 98. The communication status indicator may be a light-emitting diode. Alternatively, the communication status indicator may be a liquid crystal display, and different signs are alternately presented on the liquid crystal display to indicate the corresponding communication statuses, wherein the liquid crystal display may also be simultaneously used by the display device 120 and/or the table number/connectivity indicator of the first embodiment.
  • 2. The wireless electronic menu device 20 of this embodiment has a Wireless LAN transceiver 140 functioning as a third communication device. The menu base 104 is connected to the Wireless LAN transceiver 140 (as shown in FIG. 4) to communicate with the Wireless LAN accessing device 98 established in the restaurant, and the menu base is thus to linked to the LAN 10.

As shown in FIG. 10, the service terminal 70 further comprises a network interface device 72, a computer 74, a storage device 75, a display device 76 and a printing device 78. The service terminal 70 is commonly placed in the kitchen or the cashier desk to convenience waitpersons to receive ordering information or service calls. Further, the waitperson can input a message into the service terminal 70, and the service terminal 70 will transfer the message to the wireless electronic menu device 20 to inform the customer of the processing status of the service he asks.

Refer to FIG. 8 and FIG. 9 again. In Step 810 of constructing the menu and storing data, most of the multimedia data can be stored in the storage device 75 of the service terminal 70 via the LAN 10, and the required capacity of the storage device of the wireless electronic menu device 20 can thus be greatly reduced. When the multimedia data stored in the service terminal 70 are to be replayed, the wireless electronic menu device 20 obtain the multimedia data from the service terminal 70 via the Wireless LAN accessing device 98 and the LAN 10. The wireless electronic menu device 20 may not replay the multimedia data until the multimedia data are completely downloaded from the service terminal 70. Alternatively, via the streaming media technology, download and replay may be undertaken simultaneously. Via storing multimedia data in the storage device 75 of the service terminal 70, the multimedia data replayed in all the wireless electronic menu devices 20 maintains consistently. Further, as the multimedia data are not necessarily stored in the wireless electronic menu devices 20, the time-consuming for storing data may thus be reduced.

As shown in FIG. 11, the wireless electronic menu device 20 is linked to the LAN 10 via the Wireless LAN accessing device 98 and performs a bi-directional data exchange with the service terminal 70. The area of using the present invention can be expanded via installing the Wireless LAN accessing devices 98 inside/outside the restaurant.

The ordering process for the ordering system of the present invention is to be described below.

Firstly, a waitperson guides a customer to his seat. Next, the customer learns the promotion and the special meal of the day via watching the pictures and video presented on the display device 120 and via listening to the audio from the speaker 122 of the menu base 104. Next, the customer turns over the menus 114 to browse all the items in a food category and choose a food category, and the photo-sensors 502 perform detection and transfer the detection results to the photo-sensation processing device 508, which further transfers the results to the second microprocessor 506, and the second microprocessor 506 determines the menu 114 the custom is looking at.

Next, the customer may point the induction stylus 116 to the item name region 622 of the menu 114, and the menu base 104 memorizes the item name and presents the item name on the display device 120, and the speaker 122 voices the item name. Next, the customer may point the induction stylus 116 to the item video region 624 to obtain more information, and the display device 120 and the speaker 122 will replay the audio-video corresponding to the item name. Further, the customer may point the induction stylus 116 to the item description region 623 to obtain the cooking description. Then, the customer points the induction stylus 116 to the item option region 625 to order the item. The ordering process for several items is similar to that described above. The customer turns over the menus 114 to select another food category; next, the customer points the induction stylus to the item name region 622 and then to item option region 625 to order another item.

When the customer has completed ordering, the display device 120 of the menu base 104 will present all the ordered item names, the price and quantity of each item. The customer may press one operating key 126 to review the items he ordered. If the customer does not like one ordered item, he may press a deletion key, which has defined on the wireless electronic menu device 20, to cancel the item.

The customer may also order again to add more food items. When the customer confirms the ordered items, he may press the total price key to learn the total price from the display device 120. The total price may be calculated by the wireless electronic menu device 20 of the present invention. Alternatively, the total price may be calculated by the service terminal 70, and then the service terminal 70 transfers the calculation result to the corresponding wireless electronic menu device 20 via the Wireless LAN accessing device 98 and the LAN 10. Then, the customer can consider whether the total price of the spending is within his budget. If the answer is YES, he may press the ordering key, which has defined on the wireless electronic menu device 20, to order the items. The data of the ordered items will be transferred to the service terminal 70 via the Wireless LAN transceiver 140 and then printed, and the waitpersons can thus obtain the full information of the ordered items.

An item-served key may be defined on the wireless electronic menu device 20. Once one item has been placed on the table, the item-served key will be pressed down, and the item name shown in the display device 120 will be highlighted, and the information will be synchronically transferred to the service terminal 70. The waitperson will continue to arrange the items not served yet according to the information until all the ordered items have been placed on the table. During dining, if the customer needs service, he can press a predefined functional key to call the waitpersons.

A check-out key may be defined on the wireless electronic menu device 20. When the customer has paid, the check-out key will be pressed to clear all the ordered information from the display device 120. Alternatively, the service terminal 70 may transfer the information that the customer has paid to the wireless electronic menu device 20 to clear all the ordered information from the display device 120. Further, the display device 120 and the speaker 122 may show a short film and the background music thereof during dining.

In summary, customers can use the wireless electronic menu device proposed by the present invention to order meals similarly to the traditional way. The wireless electronic menu device of the present invention not only provides full and abundant meal information but also enables customers to order meals by themselves. Further, the present invention can overcome the problems occurring in using PDA to order meal, improve ordering correctness as well as customers' satisfaction, and reduce the manpower cost of the food-service industry. Furthermore, the wireless electronic menu device of the present invention can output multimedia with multi-linguistic narration and texts to meet the internationalization trend.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7454370 *Nov 14, 2007Nov 18, 2008E-Meal, LlcElectronic menu apparatus and method of ordering using electronic menu apparatus
US7831475Jun 5, 2007Nov 9, 2010E-Meal, LlcRemote ordering system
US8131699 *Sep 12, 2008Mar 6, 2012Ricoh Company, Ltd.Menu distribution system, menu server, read/write device, method, and computer readable recording medium
WO2013162912A1 *Apr 12, 2013Oct 31, 2013Par Technology CorporationTemperature monitoring device for workflow monitoring system
Classifications
U.S. Classification186/39
International ClassificationE04H3/04
Cooperative ClassificationG06F3/04886, H04W4/00, G06F3/046, H04W88/02, H04M1/72583
European ClassificationG06F3/0488T, H04W88/02, H04W4/00, G06F3/046