You know the drill, you’ve just finished a great meal shared with good friends when the bill arrives and it’s time for the unnecessarily painful act of splitting it up. After much debate — “No no, Sarah just came for dessert; she shouldn’t have to pay a full share” — you finally hand the waitress a handful of cards and a complex set of instructions. Surely in a world of magnetic card readers, Wi-Fi, and affordable tablets, there has got to be a better way. Everyone from major players like PayPal to start-ups like Square are offering potential solutions, but we envision a purpose-built, all-in-one solution that makes the checkout process simple and secure.
At the heart of our solution is the digital guest check, a fully integrated, Wi-Fi enabled device that combines a touchscreen, card-swipe and stylus. When not in use the guest checks charge in a docking station that can be hardwired to an existing POS system. Based on the familiar form-factor of the ubiquitous guest check fold, this device would fit comfortably into the established checkout procedures while simultaneously bringing them into the 21st century. As the meal winds to a close, the server simply drops Check 1-2 off at the table and the intuitive user interface guides customers through the payment process.
Our vision of the system would allow users to easily split the bill, pay for specific items, or charge the entire bill with a single swipe. At any point in the process users could refer to the itemized bill to confirm accuracy. After payment, the user could request an email receipt (which could include a coupon or alternative return incentive), a printed receipt from the POS machine, or simply forgo the receipt. An added benefit of a system that allows for text based input is that users could opt for non card-based payment methods like PayPal. Additionally rewards programs could be easily tied to an email address entered at checkout.
While the screen would be designed primarily for touch input, we’ve included a stylus to make check signing a more familiar experience. Subtle indicator lights would alert servers to the status of the transaction while providing users with a sense of completion. Many service business and retailers could benefit from an all-in-one self-service device. For example, Check 1-2 could serve the entire POS function for a small boutique or salon. Our research suggests that utilizing currently available technologies, a device like Check 1-2 could be produced for between two and three hundred dollars. Who’s in?