Pizza or pasta? Move your arms to decide

As Italian film director and legend Federico Fellini so tastefully pointed out, “life is a combination of pasta and magic”. And it couldn’t be more true than with Barilla’s latest digital adventure in the heart of Manhattan. Keep the pasta, replace Fellini’s magic with an ounce of digital technology and motion controlled sensors, and you have the latest in innovative dining experiences. Who said pasta was boring?

Microsoft and the Italian food giant recently teamed up to bring the best in technology and the latest fashion in restaurant experience to the Big Apple’s foodies and adventure lovers. Through a fully interactive window, Barilla’s restaurant in Herald Square is taking the food-gazing, online reviewing and window-shopping experience to new heights. Boasting the latest digital technology, the digital display allows customers to interact with the restaurant just by walking past the windows. By using hand gestures, users can browse through online reviews and look at recipes all while checking out the restaurant’s menu, and right from the pavement.

From a technological point of view, the new window is powered by a Microsoft Kinect sensor which detects hand gestures made by the user in front of the window, and converts them into commands and information. Images are then projected onto the screen, as a result of movements. From a back-end perspective, Microsoft’s cloud technology is used to collect and cater data from social network platforms, such as TripAdvisor, and the restaurant’s own network (menus, special offers, etc.). Last but not least, through Azure, the restaurant will also measure real-time metrics of performance, and make sure the most relevant and timely information is presented to the customers.

The idea behind the interactive display is to provide customers with the most transparent and engaging restaurant experience ever, all while using technologies they already know and love. In a world where Social Media is a crucial source of information and has become such a regular part of day-to-day life, companies looking to stay ahead of the game need to embrace new ways of reaching people. According to a survey commissioned by TripAdvisor in 2015, around 87% of TripAdvisor users consider reviews important when booking restaurants. By bringing the restaurant window to (virtual) life and providing users with real-time customer reviews and posts from the famous online travel platform, the Italian food giant is meeting the customers exactly where they go to get answers: online.

“Companies that focus on consumer’s needs and leverage digital technologies for establishing a long term conversation are the most successful ones on the market, creating the foundation for future growth,” explains Carlo Purassanta, General Manager, Microsoft Italy.

By offering visitors and passers-by a chance to stop and play for a moment on the interactive screen, and explore what others say and think of the restaurant, Barilla takes the user experience to new heights. Brought to life through a collaboration between Microsoft, Jingle Bells and Barilla, the new digital restaurant attraction is a true cultural and technological revolution that impacts the way a restaurant communicates with customers. “I am particularly proud that an Italian brand recognized worldwide has taken this path, creating a unique project and defining a new relationship with consumers through innovative Microsoft technologies, such as cloud computing and natural interfaces with Kinect,” explains Purassanta.




When it comes to the fine art of pasta, Italian Barilla wrote the cookbook. With over a century of experience and as much as 120 different types of pasta and products, the company has shaped the way we eat, feel and think about food. Keeping tradition at heart while continuously innovating has been the signature recipe of the Italian giant since the beginning, and with their new digital restaurant experience in Manhattan, the company has set to bring the whole Italian dining experience a step further. Read more about Barilla’s restaurant here.

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