Digital Entertainment for Kids

Client Brief

New digital entertainment areas

Founded in 1937, McDonald’s is a multinational American fast food company that has expanded to nearly 120 countries, and boasts over 36 thousand restaurants worldwide. It has been present in Italy since the mid-1980s, and now has almost 600 restaurants throughout the nation.

The major social and consumer changes of recent years have prompted the “Golden Arches” to undertake an ambitious modernization plan for its premises. This global effort will be aimed at making profound changes to the entire fast food concept. The restaurants will no longer always be identical places offering the same entrées. Instead, they’ll be diversified, with close ties to their local areas, and will be more accommodating to local tastes, with a keen eye on the latest consumer trends. The project is called Experience of the Future, and will involve the construction of new restaurants, as well as the renovation of existing ones.

The changes in consumer habits, which are increasingly involving interaction with digital devices, have prompted McDonald’s to incorporate touch screen kiosks to facilitate and expedite orders, to forge alliances in order to provide a home delivery service via the App, and to create digital entertainment areas that are consistent with the brand’s “family friendly” reputation.

This last requirement prompted McDonald’s Italia to ask for our collaboration. The aim was to come up with a concept and design for a children’s area using innovative technologies... a family corner dedicated to fun and socialization, rather than sales or promotional activities.


A flexible, modular and scalable solution

The various sizes and characteristics of the restaurants involved in the renovation efforts led us favor a more modular and scalable solution. The concept provided for the creation of a series of elements that could be assembled within each area in a personalized manner, in order to ensure easy implementation within the existing layouts.

We worked with the area manager, architects and installers to come up with most suitable combination for each of the restaurants involved, guaranteeing easy installation and full compliance with the stringent safety standards required for high-traffic places.


Family friendly

At the design level, starting in 2016, we had to resolve the space-related issues, by creating devices that could be adapted to different environments, and had to develop custom software solutions.

As far as the hardware is concerned, we designed comprehensive solutions in which the technology is fully protected, with a network of safe, fast, sturdy and easy-to-maintain interactive displays and tables. In terms of software, we designed an infrastructure that can be automatically updated remotely, and is equipped with a series of self-analysis tools that allow the customer to check and analyze the data received from the various stations: play time, stay duration, periodic traffic flows, etc., generating the relative statistics.

For the interactive stations, we developed a dedicated suite of 12 interactive games, customized for graphics and gameplay dynamics, with diversified levels and difficulty settings, with strong ties to the brand being maintained through personalized and original graphics. In order to engage young people of different ages, various types of games are provided, including creative, educational, and quick-reflex games. In order to encourage socialization, challenge modes requiring two or more people have been implemented.


The room of wonders

Based on our design and the work plan at the future restaurant, we organized the logistics system to coordinate the installation of the different areas. We handled all of the networking and network infrastructure aspects in order to allow for the remote control and monitoring of the stations.

Meticulous attention was paid to the arrangement and configuration of the interactive stations in order to ensure an optimal experience, even for large groups of people, allowing them to move about, share, and have fun. A safe space was created for little ones to socialize and test their skills, allowing their parents to enjoy a pleasant break.


An expanding digital network

At the end of 2017, we finalized the first complete installation, and performed tests upon the hardware elements, in order to improve and secure the installation, as well as tests with a market survey company in order to verify how the target would respond to the project. We analyzed the user experience and user interface by game type, and made changes and improvements based on the feedback received.

The first Digital Environment served as a model for engineering the processes and components, and was the start of a successful partnership with McDonald's that has led to 1.210 devices installed throughout Italy, divided between 55" Interactive Table and 55" Wall Display. Installations that also include an on-site assistance service that covers the entire national territory, islands included.

The analysis dashboard is accessible online with a username and password, allowing the customer to monitor user satisfaction by type of game, most used games, age groups most involved, and usage hours (both aggregated and individual) by day and time of the week. This dashboard also enables the selection of the most suitable chart types (table, pie, histogram, etc.) for the user to display data. In this way, McDonald's can follow customer trends by setting up a customized schedule.


The innovation continues

Our maintenance program entails the remote monitoring of the devices on a daily basis. Through a remote management and reporting system, any malfunctions are verified, and the relative recovery operations are performed. The functions of the network management software, the games and the analysis system are constantly updated to improve functionality and performance.

The monitoring system operates through a dedicated N.O.C. The platform allows, in real-time, to verify the proper functioning of the machinery based on "custom views" by region / province / municipality / restaurant address, etc. Through this platform, it is also possible to check the network connection status of each device, its exact location, the operation of the control PC, and the correct functioning of the game. Technicians can then remotely intervene on the machinery, performing activities like initial diagnostics, shutdown, and system restart.

Finally, through the Touchwindow monitoring system, it is possible to schedule planned updates of the gaming platform and the analysis software. These updates can occur in "hidden mode" and at preset times, so as not to interfere with the normal use of the technological solutions.

We’re proud to be part of a project of this magnitude, demonstrating that “Italy has always been a country capable of expressing innovation and offering stimuli within the McDonald’s business system”, as stated by Mario Federico, the CEO of McDonald’s Italia.

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