May I Take Your Order? IBM Drives New Technology for the Drive Through Window

New Point-of-Sale System Helps Serve Up Sizzling Food With Unique "Cooling Pipe" And Hot Multimedia

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Raleigh, N.C - 06 Nov 2000: ... IBM today announced a new family of point-of-sale (POS) systems designed especially for the food service and hospitality industries, which can be among the most difficult environments for computers due to the need for continuous operation while surrounded by beverages, heat, smoke, crumbs and grease. The new IBM SurePOS 500 family is Internet-enabled, and features dual touch screens, powerful multimedia capabilities and a unique new "cooling pipe" technology that significantly reduces the chance of failure from heat, liquids, or airborne particles.

The new SurePOS 500 line also features open platform compatibility, a choice of operating systems, unmatched flexibility and reliability, and extra bright screens for the difficult lighting found outside in fast food drive-throughs or inside in dimly lit restaurants. In addition, the SurePOS 500's ease-of-use and multimedia capabilities make employee training easier and more economical in an industry where employee turnover is high and labor is chronically in short supply.

The SurePOS 500's dual screen capability, which allows a customer standing in line to see a touch screen attached to a POS unit behind the counter, gives restaurant owners a new way to interact with their customers. They can use the technology to show commercials, offer promotions and more easily "upsell" the customer to a larger order -- increasing sales, improving customer relationships and building brand loyalty.

IBM is the world's leading provider of POS systems, and the new SurePOS 500 series builds on IBM's 15 years of POS experience specifically in the fast-growing food service and hospitality industries. Based on this experience, IBM is committed to an open platform, which provides choices for food service operators and is essential in accommodating the demanding needs of a growing industry. For example, 30 leading independent software vendors in food service and hospitality have already ported their applications to the SurePOS 500.

"These are two of the fastest-growing segments in the retail industry due to a fundamental shift in the changing lifestyles of consumers, who are working more, traveling more, and spending more time and money eating in restaurants," said Tom Peterson, General Manager of IBM Retail Store Solutions. "Food service and hospitality providers are telling us that they need the kind of advanced technology found in the SurePOS 500, and IBM is meeting those customer requirements."

The unique challenges of the food service and hospitality industries must be recognized in the design of any POS system, along with appearance, ergonomics and function. To meet these challenges, IBM's Store Solutions research lab, based in Raleigh, NC, equipped the SurePOS 500 units with the latest in computer technology and developed unique features such as the advanced pipe-cooling system and the dual screen capability.

IBM designed each member of the SurePOS 500 family with some the latest technology available today. Each model supports a choice of operating systems and driver interfaces, including DOS 2000, Windows 98/2000/NT, OPOS and JavaPOS. Standard options include, a 400 MHz processor, 12.1 inch touch screen display, universal serial bus (USB) connectivity, a 10.1 GB hard drive and the advanced cooling-pipe technology. All of this advanced technology is protected with a retail-hardened, spill-proof ergonomic casing allowing for improved cable management.

Due to the high-end processing capabilities and the flexibility of operating systems, food service operators have the option of an external CD-ROM drive, dual screens and Internet access. For example, a CD-ROM might be a viable replacement for a POS user manual, similar to computer based training. Employees could easily search the disc when they have a particular question about how to complete a transaction that they are not familiar with, such as splitting a check with more than one form of payment.

IBM is one of the first to offer the dual screen capability, leveraging the multimedia capabilities of the SurePOS 500 and giving food service operators a completely new way to interact with their customers. For example, the operator could run a promotional commercial that consumers could watch and directly interact with. They also can give customers the ability to choose, with the touch of a screen, to upgrade their orders, choose a promotional item or participate in a loyalty program.

Using a Windows-based Internet browser, such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Explorer, food service operators can also take advantage of the web by tying it into their order and delivery or procurement system. For example, a customer may want to view a restaurant's menu on the Web and place the order for delivery or store managers can use the POS for ordering take-out bags or other supplies from the company's supplier.

Typically, a food service POS unit uses a conventional cooling fan to keep the temperature of the hardware below 105 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius). These fans work well in cooling, but as they circulate the air, they pull in grease, smoke and other particles that can cause the system to fail. IBM's new cooling-pipe system keeps hardware from overheating by using a water-filled pipe, which conducts heat away from the processor and then vents it to the outside environment. This technology, unique to the POS environment, also shields the vital electronic components from airborne contaminants.

Another challenge in the food service and hospitality industry is fluctuations in lighting. The angle at which light reflects off of ordinary flat panel displays can make seeing the user-interface very difficult. To eliminate this common problem, IBM has fitted the SurePOS 500 units with extremely high-resolution, ultra-bright liquid-crystal display (LCD) touch screens. These specialized screens can work in brightly lit areas, such as drive-through stations and outdoor cafes, or ambient lit areas like fine dining restaurants and bars. The screens support 16.7 million colors at 800 x 600 dots per inch (dpi) enabling food service operators to support full motion video at the POS.

The IBM SurePOS 500 family also was designed to give customers flexibility. Depending on their requirements, customers can choose from three different POS systems, each offering the same flexibility, reliability and low cost of ownership.
The SurePOS 560 features a sleek design that combines an integrated active matrix touch screen with enough processing power to support a full-function POS or combined POS with back-office applications. This model will be ideal for food service operators whose environment requires them to operate in bright sun light such as cruise ships or outdoor cafes. A personal computer memory card expansion slot enables the use of wireless terminals where it is difficult to route cable.

The SurePOS 540 isoptimized for food service operators that want the advantages of the SurePOS 560, including a crisp, bright active matrix display, but who are not considering full multimedia or wireless at the POS.

The SurePOS 520 can be the answer for food service operators looking for a full function POS, but do not require multimedia capabilities or slot expansion at the POS and who do not operative in an environment that is bright enough to require a 560 or 540 display. IBM also has developed a variety of peripherals, including the thermal SureMark printer, which can print logos and customized messages, as well as magnetic stripe readers, stereo speakers, cash draws and customer displays. IBM's commitment to an open platform will provide food service operators with a protection on their investment for the life of the POS as well as a variety of full-function software application solutions from business partners located worldwide.

IBM Retail Industry
IBM, the world's leading e-business and information technology company, provides the Retail Industry with a full range of e-business solutions, including: hardware and software technology; consulting focused on business transformation, IT strategy and planning, store operations improvement, and supply chain optimization, and with services, such as outsourcing, managed operations, systems integration, and application development and design. For more information on IBM Retail Solutions, please visit

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