eatsa was a restaurant and food tech company in San Francisco and NYC focused on bringing healthy food to the masses through fast and efficient stores. It looked to solve for staff having to spend time on taking orders rather than focusing on the customer experience among other things. eatsa began by following in the steps of automats with large futuristic cubby walls and a fully automated consumer experience.
After a few years there was a lot of demand for our technology. After finally opening up our ecosystem to sell our hardware and software to other companies, one thing became apparent when it came to pickup solutions: cubby walls were not it. The walls were expensive, required a fairly specific footprint, and while it handled various order sizes, it was often more than what brands needed. We worked together to build a lightweight, flexible and engaging shelving pickup system to help streamline operations and delight consumers.
"We need an animation system that surprises and delights customers before, after, and during their wait."
We were building an interactive shelving system and we needed guidance on hardware choices, animation frameworks, and assets for customers to help engage their customers. It was ask that I document and standardize an animation system that informs workers, guides the consumer through the order flow and engages consumers waiting.
It was important that we used animation sparingly, but worked with the hardware to create a surprising illusion of animation appearing directly on a wood surface. We wanted consumers to be truly delighted and intrigued.
After months of speccing out different screens trying to identify what the best bang for the buck will be in terms of animation, frame rate while balancing the actual price of hardware, I began to put together an animation system and framework for how we might use motion to engage with customers during different parts of the ordering experience.
This involved defining a series of looping animations, as well as animations to enter, exit, and transition between various order states or states of success and error.
Because we were building this for external partners as well, we wanted to make sure that we could produce animation for each in a scalable way, while maintaining brand and character for each restaurant.
Working directly with various brands we were able to prototype, test, and productionize the animation framework in active restaurant locations. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Consumers were engaged, often spotted with their phones out taking videos and trying to figure out how the technology worked.
Restaurant workers found the animations helpful to executing their job quickly, directing them to which spots meals should be placed and which needed attention. Instead of having to search through a sea of orders, consumers were able to find their food quickly which helped alleviate strain on staff.
The animations were often met with smiles and laughter, helping bring another voice to a restaurant brand's in-store experience.
A standards book was put together to help other designers and creatives make their own animations for the system.