KFC has been using Tray Typer Bluetooth keyboards instead of paper tray coverings that are only 0.4mm thick and can be taken away by customers.
The Tray Typer can be used with a smartphone to allow customers to tweet or send social messages about their meal without getting dirty fingerprints on their touchscreen. The keyboard is wafer thin at less than 1mm thick, but it is also flexible so can be rolled up and is able to be recharged too. The keyboards were given away in KFC restaurants and customers were able to roll them up and take them home to be recharged for later. It’s not known whether they can be washed to get fingerprints off from typing during a meal but one would expect them to be able to withstand being wiped clean for future use.
Unfortunately, these new keyboards aren’t available everywhere- they were given to customers for free at the opening of a new KFC restaurant in Germany for one week. Whether KFC will make the Tray Typers available again is a mystery, but they may become a regular promotion for new restaurant openings globally.
The company behind the Tray Typer promotion, Serviceplan, has explained their motivation for creating the wafer thin gadget. Regis Watrisse, the digital marketing director, said that using smartphones while enjoying a KFC meal would leave customers with fingerprints on their touchscreen. The Tray Typer was invented to combat this and it features a durable tray covering that transforms into a wireless keyboard when smartphones are connected via Bluetooth.
The Bluetooth keyboards proved a hit with customers, and KFC has said that “Geolocated media discussions skyrocketed”. It has to be said that beyond convenience and coolness, there isn’t a lot of motivation for the fried chicken restaurant chain to repeat the stunt of giving away free keyboards except for advertising purposes to garner more social media mentions. This is particularly true of new restaurant openings as customers would be able to tell their friends on Facebook or Twitter about the great meal they’re having and where exactly the new restaurant is.
This isn’t the first time that a food fast or takeaway chain has come up with an idea that makes use of modern technology for promotional purposes or to increase convenience for their customers, and it isn’t even a first for KFC in particular. Last year KFC Japan held contests on social media to help them gain more followers and as a prize offered a keyboard, mouse and USB stick shaped to look like pieces of fried chicken. Only three winners were picked to own a set of the computer accessories but 47 other winners grabbed a pair of 3D printed fried chicken earrings. These were very much novelty products, especially the keyboard which had three dimensional models of food buckets and even the Colonel on them, plus keys with textured fried chicken shapes on them instead of letters, apart from the keys for the K, F and C. This type of promotion may not have gone down so well in the UK or US, but novelty products such as these can be a big hit in Japan.
In addition to KFC’s technologically aware promotions, Domino’s Pizza has recently opened up a new customer ordering platform using Twitter. Customers can register their Twitter accounts through the Domino’s website online and choose options for their favourite type of pizza. They can then tweet the Domino’s twitter account with a pizza emoji to place an order which will allow the pizza chain to take payment from their credit card before arriving at the door with their favourite hot pizza. Domino’s has also previously allowed customers to pay with Bitcoin.
While the KFC Tray Typer looks like a new piece of technology, CSR, a UK based technology company, showed off a Bluetooth keyboard in 2013 that was equally as thin and flexible. CSR showed the keyboard to the world through a YouTube video which it named ‘The World’s Thinnest Keyboard’. The keyboard uses screen sensing from Atmel and ‘printable flexible electronics’ from Conductive Inkjet Technology.
With paper thin keyboards having first been showed off two years ago and now available as a freebie from fast food restaurants, it makes us wonder why this technology is not yet readily available to buy for easier typing with smartphones, tablets and computers.