EaTable: An Interactive Eating Experience

Museums pride themselves in the experiences they provide. Each exhibit has a unique story to tell and a curated interaction for every show.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is no different.

While their exhibits feature renowned artists and inspiring creations, their food options disrupt the awesome experience. Cafeterias and shops in museums are very important to the revenues, and that is no different for the American Art Museum.

While museums struggle to find funding, they seem to forget about creating value for their most profitable features: the cafeterias.

My goal was to connect the eating experience to the experience of the American Art Museum, so I created EaTable: an interactive eating experience.

EaTable is a program for museum-goers to opt into that changes the experience of eating.

Before entering the cafe, you can purchase a ticket at a kiosk. You have the option of customizing your experience with assistive features or different languages.

While buying food in the cafe, specific dishes are displayed with the EaTable Key, which signifies their compatibility with the program. All available dishes have Keyed versions for the same price as non-Keyed versions, but the plates that are Keyed have a magnetized sticker on the bottom that interacts with the EaTable program. The Key tells the EaTable program what kind of food is on the plate, and brings up the program for that food specifically.

When sitting down to eat, the participants choose a EaTable. The food is placed on the built-in placemat, and the ticket is placed on the ticket reader, which initiates the program.

The program uses the plate as the controller and reacts to turning the plate to navigate and lifting the plate up slightly to select.

The interface for EaTable concentrates on three sections: History, Nutrition, and Explore. History explores how the chosen cuisine arrived or was created in America, and how it has had cultural impact in the past. Nutrition shows the nutrients of the meal in an easy-to-understand way, with graphics to illustrate the information and explanations for the importance of each type of nutrient. Explore shows a similar or simplified recipe for the meal, and it offers top Yelp reviewed restaurants around DC that offer a similar cuisine.