Mental Model – A real life example (AR Food Menu)

“You go to a restaurant and start flipping the pages of food menu. After spending some moments, you call the ‘Captain’ and asks him: “Can you please tell the curry which is ‘Less/Medium spicy’, ‘in Red gravy and thick gravy’, ‘bla-bla bla’ etc.?” This incident or similar to this incident are very common and we all can relate similar conversation in restaurants/hotels.“

Have you tried to observe the scenario and the reason why it was happening? Why sometimes we are not able to make out decision with the help of Food Menu or require the help of Captain/Restaurant staff? One such key reason is ‘Mis matching of Mental Model’. Really? How does it relate to Mental Model?

Mental Model

Let’s understand that. A mental model is an explanation of someone's thought process about how something works in the real world. Mental models are how we understand the world. Not only do they shape what we think and how we understand but they shape the connections and opportunities that we see.

Mostly restaurants have food item name, which are not standardized or generic and sometimes they may change from Restaurant to Restaurant. Ex. – Paneer Lababdar, Paneer Maharaja, Paneer Pasanda etc. When you read these kinds of food item name, you don’t get ‘Key Details’ which are helpful in making decision. These key details are ‘Key Attributes’ which are required to form/understand mental model. For example: In this scenario of choosing Curry, we may have key attributes like Curry type, Gravy color, Spices, Quantity, how does it look when served etc. If we do not get these key details, we may not be able to make decision and will try to clarify them with others.
What if a food menu can have Food Item name and little bit summary of these key details.
What if food menu can have Food item image – ‘how will it be served’.
What if food menu can show you the proper food item on your table before you order.

Using Augmented Reality

This problem is not novel in today’s world, many new tech enthusiasts and startups have come up with a new concept of Using – Augmented Reality in this ecosystem. Where Consumer can get preview or feel of dish before actually ordering it on their table. This is changing the experience of outing in food joint.






All these enhancements are taking bit closer to the current Mental model. Next time when you go to any restaurant, try ‘Panner Hatke’ or ‘Panner Takatak’ :)


Author
Abhishek Jain
Design Lead - UX Researcher 

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