Honest Eats mini hack top prize goes to tap-dancing vending machine

22 Jun 2018

From left: Keith Harrison, sales manager, Cathay Pacific; Kathryn Parkes, designer and Honest Eats mini hack winner; and Gráinne Morrison, futurist, Future Factory at Dublin Airport. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

Designer Kathryn Parkes had the Inspirefest audience and the judges smiling with her tap-dancing vending machine idea at Dublin Airport’s Honest Eats mini hack.

Earlier this month, some of the country’s most innovative designers, entrepreneurs and creators were tasked with creating amazing ideas as part of the Dublin Airport Honest Eats mini hack.

The event was a collaboration between Inspirefest and Marqette’s Future Factory hub, which experiments with and tests new products, services, solutions and initiatives with a futuristic slant.

For those unfamiliar, the Honest Eats concept offers passengers the chance to bypass the queues in the food hall and pick up what they want at a cashless self-checkout stand.

Outside of the supervision of human staff, the concept relies on honesty and, so far, has had a very impressive 96pc success rate.

Sharon Goff

Sharon Goff presenting her ‘Honest Eats Welcomes You Home’ pitch at the mini hack. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

Vending machine with a difference

After whittling down the applications, the judging panel at the event on Friday (22 June) soaked in the five-minute pitches from the three successful finalists: Sharon Goff, Alex Wilson and Kathryn Parkes.

The pitcher’s goal was to propose a system that Dublin Airport could install around the terminals in areas where much larger traditional shops would just get in the way.

And so, after hearing the three impressive pitches, the judging panel decided that Parkes’ Tap Tap station was the best in show.

Similar in style to a vending machine, the Tap Tap differs in that it also has a human-sized video screen containing a smiling Irish tap dancer.

Using pre-recorded video and some clever looping software, for all intents and purposes, it seems as if there is a person right beside you.

How it works

When a person approaches the machine, motion sensors will detect them and look at them. But, once you tap with a card or mobile payment, the dancer will begin to tap dance one step. When another person taps and pays, the dancer will tap two steps, and so on.

Speaking on stage, Parkes emphasised that the honesty requirement the judges are looking for could be encouraged with the dancer acknowledging the customer, and that kids in particular would be eager to see it dance, encouraging their parents to buy something.

“This is a brilliant way of keeping us all honest,” Parkes said, “and it would be providing entertainment throughout the airport.”

As is the core of any great idea, the Tap Tap could also be applied to any other national dance so that not only could it be developed for another airport, it could be localised in an airport departure gate depending on a particular destination.

Fantastic prizes

For her great idea, Parkes will now receive return flights for two to Hong Kong with the mini hack’s airline partner, Cathay Pacific.

This includes a cultural experience for two on arrival in Hong Hong with entry and exit through Dublin Airport through the Platinum Services VIP terminal.

She will also get the opportunity to partner with The Future Factory, Marqette and software provider CBE to further develop her solution.

With more than 20 years of experience in managing creative teams, Parkes would be familiar to regular Inspirefest attendees as she was on stage at the inaugural event in 2015.

The two runner-up projects that just missed out on the top prize included Goff’s ‘Honest Eats Welcomes You Home’, which lets passengers order essentials ahead of time for when they land; and Wilson’s ‘Grab ’n Go’ concept, which replicates the seamless shopping of Amazon Go in the airport.

For their efforts, they will receive a €100 gift voucher for The Loop at the airport, as well as a meal for four at Marqette.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event celebrating the point where science, technology and the arts collide. To find out more about the best event for bright minds in Europe, please visit inspirefest.com.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic