The Happy Meal may infuriate parents who’d rather not compete with toys when teaching their children healthy eating habits, but even as an adult, I look back at Happy Meals as a source of magic in my childhood. That colorful box was just mine. It was filled with delicious food. And, most importantly, it might have a toy that I’d seen on TV–specifically, hotcakes that transformed into a pterodactyl. (Boy I wanted that pterodactyl!) But in the age of iPhones and Angry Birds, couldn’t these toys live in pixels rather than plastics?
Indeed they can! A McDonald’s in Yishun, Singapore, is introducing the Happy Table. By DDB Group Singapore, it’s a totally normal table with NFC (near field communication) stickers stuck to its underside like chewing gum. These NFC stickers can communicate with smartphones, creating games that can be played across the table. In the video above, the phone takes the role of a race car using the table as its track.
No doubt, when you know how the technology works–that it’s just sticker-based!–the magic may seem a bit low-fi. But that’s the brilliance. McDonald’s could easily scale and test this infrastructural toy, not by retrofitting their 34,000+ restaurants worldwide with microprocessors, projectors, and touch-screen surfaces, but by mailing out a few stickers and enlisting any hourly rate employee to handle the upgrade.
Currently, the Happy Table is only installed at the one McDonald’s location in Yishun, but after that pilot ends, the platform will eventually spread across more of Asia. (And who knows, maybe it will even make its way stateside if the U.S. ever adopts NFC with the gusto of our foreign cheeseburger-loving counterparts).