IBM Patents System For Splitting The CheckIBM Patents System For Splitting The Check
The waiter deposits a $200 check and an uncomfortable silence envelops the table. Glances are exchanged and eyebrows are raised. Who ordered the expensive wine? Who only had a soda and sandwich? Who pays for what? Enter IBM.
December 2, 2008
The waiter deposits a $200 check and an uncomfortable silence envelops the table. Glances are exchanged and eyebrows are raised. Who ordered the expensive wine? Who only had a soda and sandwich? Who pays for what? Enter IBM.Splitting the check, an ordeal that's familiar to demure ladies who lunch and rowdy bar patrons alike, has long been a sore point for diners, especially those who are math challenged or who don't like to pay more than their fair share (and who really does?).
IBM, a tech giant that spends billions of dollars each year trying to solve the business world's thorniest problems, thinks it has an answer. The company has filed a patent application for a table-side electronic ordering and payment system specifically designed to help restaurant-goers split the check. "Patrons are assisted using this system in dividing the bill by displaying the amount due (including tax) and allowing each patron to enter the amount they wish to pay," says IBM's patent application, filed Nov. 25. "When the initial bill is presented, a balance due will be displayed and the indication will be provided that the bill has yet to be paid in full. As each transaction is entered, a running total will be displayed indicating the remaining balance due. When the running total reaches zero, the bill is paid in full, and an indication will be provided, such as by illuminating a green indicator light or by displaying a balance due of $0.00." In other words, the system, which IBM calls "Pay At The Table," provides a way for that guy who always claims he only had two beers to discretely enter an amount reflecting such supposedly moderate consumption. The patent application indicates that the system was invented by researchers at IBM's Austin, Texas labs. BTW, isn't IBM part of that same tech industry that's always complaining about frivolous patents and urging for reform at the USPTO? Hmmm.
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