Our story:

It all started with a problem—actually, 15 years of having the same problem and getting annoyed—that made me finally take action 😊.

The problem was a simple one, and I bet it’s something you’ve faced too. When I went to a bar or restaurant, I could never seem to get the attention of the server so I could order another drink or get the bill.

It may be my personality, but I just hated this constant attempt to get the server’s attention, especially having to spend my time trying to make eye contact and waving them over. Often, I would just decide to skip the drink and leave. And as an entrepreneur and an accountant, this made me think about the business losing sales, and also leaving the customer with a sense of having had a negative experience.

I would guess that most people don’t provide this feedback to the business—they probably just decide to go somewhere else.

As a technology entrepreneur, I began to think of ways that this problem could be solved in a way that benefited both the customer and the business. After many conversations with friends, and over many beers, I decided to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) Computer Vision to notify the server that a customer may need help.

While trying to get them to agree to work with us , you need to get lots of images, so I went to some local restaurants and bars to ask if they would work with me on a proof of concept (POC). While trying to get them agree to work with us and provide us with video / CCTV footage, I would explain that we were a technology company, and I would show them other solutions and products we had developed, so I didn’t just seem like some random dude asking for this stuff!

While showing a local bar one of the products we’ve developed, Civita App (a reporting and community engagement app for cities), the manager said it would be great to have a menu-driven list that would notify the server / back office that the customer needed help. He thought we could integrate this into the POS (point of sale device).

The problem with that approach for us was that, firstly, we would have to integrate with a POS and there are hundreds of POS out there. It would require a massive effort. We would also need to have the restaurant sign up for our service, which was another huge challenge, especially for a company that gets most of its business though referrals. We are great at solving problems—sales and marketing, not so much!

We do have a few businesses that we are working with now that are letting us use their camera footage to train our AI models. However, this is a slow process and is sure to take us a long while. If you are a business and willing to help out by sharing your video footage, please reach out to us—we would love to get more data.

Meanwhile, keeping all this in mind, we figured—why not just launch an initial app that turns a smart phone into a “display” that asks for the server’s attention. This way, as a busy server or bartender scans their area, they will see the display and can take action. After all, they aren’t mind readers. Also, this allows the customer to simply enjoy their drink or meal, instead of spending their time trying to get the attention of a server. It is kind of like your own personal airline call button.

We will be releasing the app as a beta release and would love any feedback you may have while using the app.  And if you like the app, tell your friend to download it!