EZEats is a semester-long project that I worked on with a team of 4 other students for my Human-Computer Interaction class (CSE 440) in Autumn 2019. We learned about the design process and performed need-finding, user research, prototyping and user testing to create our final product. Below is the problem summary and solution that we propose with EZEats, along with a final digital prototype.
We studied how people with allergies interact with waitstaff and make decisions when trying new food or food from unfamiliar restaurants. Through running three user studies, we identified two key barriers that people with allergies face when dining out.
First, all of our participants expressed feeling awkward about having conversations about their dietary restrictions with their waiters. We found that our participants tried to avoid having these conversations whenever possible, only bringing up their dietary restrictions if they felt it was necessary.
Second, participants cited that trust was important in influencing which dishes they decide to order, and not having an existing relationship with the restaurant or dish would make it more difficult to try new foods. As a result, many of our users decided to opt for foods and restaurants that are familiar or would prefer not to eat out at all.
From our user research, we discovered the main barriers people with allergies face at restaurants are: the fear that the waitstaff is not fully aware of their allergies and concern of being an inconvenience due to the stigma associated with dietary restrictions. We identified two solutions to address this issue: (1) a discrete form of communication between customers and waitstaff and (2) personalized menus for customers with allergies.
We chose to use a bracelet and tablet menu interface to bring these solutions to life. With the combination of these two items, customers are able to tap into tablet menus using a bracelet preloaded with their allergy information, creating a personalized menu with the food they are able to eat safely and sending a notification to the necessary restaurant staff of their dietary restrictions.