As restaurants reopen and (some) employees go back to the office, ensuring sanitary, socially distanced public spaces is a major topic of discussion, and contactless is fast becoming a requirement for everything from restaurant menus to grocery deliveries to lunch.
Your office water cooler can join that list now, too. Today, Bevi, a tech company that makes smart water coolers for office and commercial spaces, announced a new touchless dispensing feature meant to make it machines feel more sanitized and socially distanced to users.
The Bevi machine dispenses both still and sparkling water in a variety of flavors. The system involves an internet-connected dispenser that hooks up to a tap water source. Up to now, users could set flavors, carbonation levels, and other preferences using a touchscreen built into the machine. But come July 13, both new and existing Bevi machines will offer touchless dispensing that utilizes an individual’s mobile phone, according to a press release sent to The Spoon.
Come July 13, Bevi will send an on-screen animation to all its machines that includes instructions on how to use touchless dispensing. To enable the animation, companies just have to run a simple software update. From there, users can scan a QR code, which will replicate Bevi’s dispensing menu on their own personal screen. The same options for drink customization (carbonation levels, flavor, etc.) will appear on the user’s phone just as they would have on the machine’s touchscreen.
On the surface, the update seems a small one, but actually, these micro innovations from the tech world play an important role in making the world, or at least your office or local restaurant, a more sanitary place. While the scale of germophobism varies from one individual to the next, the pandemic has definitely called into question our use of these screens in public settings.
Various efforts are in place to address those concerns. Restaurants across the world are being urged to adopt contactless menus. My colleague Chris Albrecht makes a good argument for gesture control on kiosks and smart dispensers. Others are releasing facial recognition technology on their machines, so that a user need only have their face scanned to access the customer profiles and past orders.
But facial recognition systems are expensive and come with a double side of privacy concerns. In lots of cases, it may be that a simple QR code is more feasible for a business to implement, especially if it’s for something simple like dispensing a lime-flavored water.
That seems to be Bevi’s thinking behind its new feature update. Doubtless we’ll see many other device-makers rolling out their own touchless functionality in the near future.