Technology Is Working to Save You from Overcrowded Coffee Shops

A Portland, Ore., startup wants to spare you the frustration of walking into a coffee shop and finding that the place is packed and there’s nowhere to perch.

Ah, the trials and tribulations of the modern remote worker. Among them? Gathering together all your gear (smartphone, laptop and whatever other stuff you need to turn in that project on deadline) and heading to your friendly local Wi-Fi-equipped coffee shop only to find out that — ugh, really? — the place is packed and there’s no place for you to perch.

The good news, Wired reports, is that a Portland, Ore.-based company is working to combat this very problem. Workfrom, a startup dedicated to helping “nomadic” workers “discover reliable places to get work done outside of the home or office,” in cities all over the world, has now promised to help you find out — before you leave your home or office — just how likely you are to score a seat in a coffee shop, using sensors to suss out the scene and relay the intel back to you in real time.

To accomplish this, Workfrom has teamed up with Density, a San Francisco firm that manufactures a high-tech doohickey that “sits in the door frame” of a business “and uses a pair of infrared distance sensors to count each and every person that enters and exits.” The device then transmits that information to the Web – so users can find out in advance how big a crowd to expect.

The devices are reportedly up and running in several Portland establishments, and Workfrom and Density presumably hope to expand. Eater points out that a handful of other companies are also working to eliminate the irritation of stumbling on a crowded coffee shop unawares: Google has launched a feature that warns you when a restaurant is apt to be busy, and an app called Croissant lets you reserve seats (and place your order) at coffee shops.

Of course, you could save yourself a latte frustration by making your own latte and working at home. Start with Giada De Laurentiis’ Homemade Chai Latte or Food Network Kitchen’s Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Photo courtesy of iStock
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