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The Bizarre New Way You'll Order at Fast-Food Restaurants

It requires you to touch nothing and talk to no one!

At numerous fast-food restaurants, the use of touch screen technology was heavily relied on to take customer orders. It helped to create an ease to the ordering process and cut down the long lines at cash registers. Yet with the rise of the coronavirus and strict policies enforced at these restaurants, the use of touch screens is no longer deemed safe.

But what if you could use a touch screen without touching it?

That's currently what the company Ultraleap is in the process of working on, a technology company that has developed touchless technologies that can operate for different kiosks, screens, elevators, appliances, and medical interfaces.

"In its simplest form, Ultraleap's technology can replace the need for touchscreens," says Saurabh Gupta, director of out-of-home product at Ultraleap. "Using our hand tracking you can interact with digital content using your hands, in the same way you would with a touchscreen, but you do not need to touch a surface. Our virtual touch haptics adds the sense of touch in mid-air to help notify that a selection has been made."

According to Gupta, Ultraleap's touchless screens are already being used in multiple places. You can find this technology in shopping malls, cinema lobbies, experiential marketing to cars, virtual reality (VR) arcades, and theme park rides.

Additionally, Ultraleap's Chief Technology Officer Tom Carter said the company is working on developing hand-tracking technology for fast-food restaurant kiosks as well in an article recently published by The Financial Times.

How does a touchless screen work?

According to Ultraleap's website, this mid-air haptics hand tracking technology will be controlled using gestures through felt virtual tactile sensations projected by the hands. The technology is clean, safe, and easy to operate.

"No wearables. No controllers. No public surfaces," says Gupta.

Where can you find these touchless screens?

As of right now, none of the fast-food restaurants we know of have announced any partnerships with Ultraleap. Yet while Gupta has kept quiet about partnerships, his advice to "watch the space" for announcements could mean changes in fast food kiosks in the near future.

However, these screens are already in some of your favorite beloved spaces including movie theaters. And as the world's concern for public health continues to increase during the pandemic, you will likely see this technology flourishing in all types of public interfaces. Gupta says you may even experience it in your grocery stores, ATMs, and much more.

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Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in recipe development, food, and diet coverage. Read more