So there's this little restaurant near my office called Sushi Station. The genre of this place is best described as "conveyor-belt sushi." Let me explain.
You sit around a large counter on barstools, not unlike the counter at an American diner. Right in front of your face is a conveyor belt, upon which little plates of sushi ride. They are covered by a large clear tube which has slide-up doors. You sit and watch the sushi go by. Every so often, a sign rides by saying "Spicy Tuna" or "Edamame." If you see something that looks good, you just open the door and grab it! Then you eat it! Just like that - instant gratification.
The way you stay honest is that the plates are color-coded. It's something like $2 for green, $3 for pink, $4 for blue and $6 for yellow. When you've had enough, your waitress comes by, tallies up your plates and brings you the bill. Clever.
What I think is fascinating about conveyor-belt sushi is that they have literally brought the menu to life, right in front of you. First we saw diner menus with little drawings of their food. Then the Denny's menu brought this concept to the masses with its not-fooling-anybody photos of eggs and bacon. Some restaurants have dessert trays, or even platters showing their raw cuts of meat (yikes).
But this is the ultimate in real-time decision-making. It's almost childlike in the way it caters to your visual sense - you see something and say "I want that." Seconds later, you have it.
Now I know that Americans are considered lazy, and that we are constantly coming up with "inventions" that bring "convenience" to our lives, so we don't even have to get up to change the channel. And I have to say that I'm not a fan of this trend - can't people just get off the couch and do something for themselves?
But that said, the idea of conveyor-belt shopping still sounds pretty freaking cool. Just imagine - you sit in a chair and things fly slowly by your eyes. You consider each thing for just a second. Suddenly, "That one!" And you've made your choice.
It would be fun for impulse buys, or purchases where you can't make up your mind. It would help in situations where the process takes a long time. It's like picking the bad guy out of a lineup. You see it once, and in a split second, you know. That's the one I want. And bam - instant gratification.
Maybe one day we'll all be sitting in La-Z-Boys at Target, watching toasters fly by.