Fun Pad mixes entertainment and advertising

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Restaurants soon may give you more than just a menu when you go out for a meal.

Fun Pad, a handheld wireless entertainment device that lets restaurant diners play games, browse rich-media content and order meals, was introduced last week by Entertainment Systems Technology, Huntington Beach, Calif.

United Artists Theaters, videogame maker Activision and Dr Pepper/Seven Up will promote their products and offer coupons via rotating channels that cycle content every seven minutes. Entertainment Systems charges $15 per thousand impressions for seven minutes of viewing time, which will provide the bulk of Fun Pad's revenue. Restaurants pay $5,000 to install up to 40 Fun Pads in each location.

Entertainment Systems will promote the device through trade ads, trade shows and direct mail.

American Restaurant Group, which owns Spoons and National Sports Grill; Planet Hollywood; and TGI Fridays are installing systems this summer in southern California. It's also talking to hospitals, airline hospitality suites and sports venues.


The device, smaller than a notebook computer, will be given to diners standing in line and sitting at tables. "It's a way to keep people at the table longer and lets them feel like they belong," said Ron Goodwin, CEO of Entertainment Systems.

NTN Communications distributes TV Trivia Network, an ad-subsidized and e-commerce-ready game in bars and restaurants. But Fun Pad combines printing, full-motion graphics, stereo sound and e-commerce in one device.

"This is cutting-edge technology, and we want to be one of the first ones on board," said Mike Branigan, VP of marketing for American Restaurant Group.

Said Mr. Goodwin: "There will always be customers wanting the personal touch. Fun Pad provides better service."

Copyright May 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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