How an IoT button could enhance QSR Drive-Thru customer experience (Part 2)

This second segment briefly explores the IoT button design concept, user interface (UI) & experience (UX) and potential peripheral opportunities this concept may present to value chain partners in the long run

The 2nd installment continues from the first segment that introduced the how the concept of an IoT button could enhance Drive-Thru experience for the QSR industry (fast food restaurants, etc.)

Key Characteristics of the IoT button

There are 3 key characteristics to consider for an IoT button; whose main operation is confined to a moving vehicledistraction-free operation, intuitive design/UI/UX & robust build quality

1. Distraction-free operation

One of they primary value-propositions of a physical IoT button is it’s distraction-free operation. It is always that much safer to press a physical (IoT) button (housing a fingerprint reader for order authorization & m-Payment) vs. fumbling with a smartphone App; especially when the vehicle is in motion

2. Intuitive design/UI/UX

The physical IoT button should impart a simplified User Interface (UI); one which shouldn’t require anything more than a couple of (no-visual) taps through the entire process. The front-end User Experience (UX) would need to be equally simple; as most of the heavy lifting would be done by back-end tasks (combination of m-Payments, AI, analytics – will explore in Part 3 of this topic)

3. Robust build quality

The IoT button’s encasing & internal components would need to be robust enough to withstand anything from light vibrations to jolts of a typical urban pot-holed roads and operable within reasonable temperature limits

Under normal operating conditions; the IoT button should also be able to go long distances between charging intervals / battery replacements (to ensure user engagement)

From an hardware ROI standpoint, the (individual) device cost should be recoverable from just a few customer visits/orders

For example if the build of material (BOM) of the each device is $10 (will vary based on components & procurement power) then the restaurant should be able to recuperate the hardware cost with just a handful of user orders+ the added opportunity for order upgrades, repeat visits, family accounts & more

Customer Order User Experience (UX) Less Interaction = Higher Engagement

From a consumer’s perspective, the minimalist IoT button would need to be augmented with an equally simple ordering process

When it comes to an IoT button solution – The lesser the users have to interact with the front-end… the higher their engagement levels will be with the overall solution in the long run

Connected Corners

3 Simple Steps + 1 preliminary setup process


Where the user setup their default menu & payment preference tagged singularly to the IoT Button. They can set it up on a smartphone companion App or through a desktop portal (eg. restaurant’s website)


User simply pushes the button when actively desiring food/drink or may be passively prompted by the IoT button when the user enters a geo-fence of a preferred store (e.g. 10min / 3km drive radius)


Upon confirmation; the user is directed to their designated store – either through a built-in display, companion (dash mounted) smartphone or maybe even through the connected car’s main display (Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, etc.)

[Optional Sales Opportunity Step]

Around the halfway point en-route to their designated drive-thru store; the restaurant could send out an up-sell / X-sell offer notification (think: drink upgrade) which requires nothing but a button press to accept (or do nothing to reject)


The user simple drives up to a dedicated pre-order booth –> picks up their meal/drink from –> disappears into the sunset – Nothing more to do!!

All other facets of the transaction occurs in the back-end; including user authentication, payment authorization, Geo-fence/distance-based push notifications & true ‘ take-n-go’ logistics; which will be explored in more detail in the 3rd installment

Wait… what about Voice as an input medium?

Voice User Interface/Interaction (VUI) first came into mass limelight in various smartphone assistant avatar (Siri, Cortana & Google) and is emerging as a promising human-2-device interaction alternative with the ongoing success of Amazon’s Alexa platform

So shouldn’t it be obvious that VUI should be the de-facto medium for IoT ordering?

In context to aforementioned IoT ordering concept; the relatively nascent VUI platform may not be primed (yet) to replace a physical IoT button

2 key reasons

A. Response Delays & Complexities

The current crop of consumer-grade voice assistants still largely rely on remote cloud computing for processing core tasks (acoustic & language modeling, solution retrieval, etc.) –> which in turn relies on the quality of the wireless network it is transmitted over –> amplified further by the complexity of it’s use in a constantly moving vehicle

Challenges such as timely & accurate detection of language, accents & phonics holds VUI back as the primary medium of IoT ordering platform

Additionally; VUI’s relatively longer response time (from invoking the wake command –> user placing voice order –> device repeating order –> device-to-cloud remote voice analysis –> delivering confirmation –> IF erroneous THEN repeat) is a disadvantage vs. simply pushing a button (1 sec)

So; when the user invokes “Hey burger… order me my preset mealonly to be repeatedly translated by the device as “Hey burger… order me my preset mailOR “Hey burger… order me my preset me up“; not only is their appetite gone but is the user experience & attachment

B. Unique User Identification

The aforementioned IoT button design incorporates a biometric fingerprint reader which allows only it’s unique owner to individualize orders & authorize (back-end) payment transactions

Current VUI’s inability to uniquely & accurately identify the authorized user’s voice from other voices is still a challenge… ergo any user in possession of the device could place an order whilst the owner gets stuck with the e-bill

Ongoing strides in machine learning &AI stands to improve the VUI platform to a point where it may be quicker, more efficient & seamless to summonMr. McDonald’s or Sir Starbucks” than using their respective IoT buttons… But until that day… “No Uncle George; you are not authorized to order that Jumbo-sized Big Burger meal when using Aunt Sue’s personalized IoT ordering button”

Peripheral Opportunities – Partnerships

How about embedded IoT buttons for your favorite restaurants built directly into the vehicle’s infotainment system?

One potential peripheral benefit of an IoT button based solution is it’s long-term monetization model; particularly from Business-2-Business (B2B) partnerships

think: McDonald’s or Starbucks partnering with automobile companies such as Ford, GM, et al. to incorporate their IoT buttons directly into their vehicles out of the assembly line

Additionally; this partnership could also be extended to truck manufactures such as Mack, Volvo, et al. proving beneficial particularly to long haul interstate truckers

Similar to other IoT solutions; long term partnerships & monetization potentials are virtually limitless and extends to value-chain players beyond just the quick-service restaurants

The next installments will explore back-end tasks (Business UI/UX) and ROI involved in powering this IoT button concept; particularly those transactional aspects that include user authentication, payment authorization, geo-fence/distance based push notifications & true take-n-go logistics

Stay tuned!