You’ll never believe this weird trick for getting a table from a laptop user at a coffeeshop! Why wouldn’t you believe it? Well, it’s because of your excessively skeptical nature.

by worstideas

Background:

If you go into a coffeeshop in a major city, there is a good chance that you will find it entirely colonized by patrons with laptops who use the shop as a “home office.”

Even if you wait for half an hour, you might never get a table. Woe!

Previously, this issue could be mitigated by either:

  • Not providing WiFi, which is now obsolete due to phone tethering and/or built-in cell radios in laptops.

or

  • Restricting access to wall outlets (which worked very well in the era of 3-hour laptop batteries). But improved battery technology has rendered this approach ineffective as well.

laoptop-normal

Fig 1: This laptop has unavoidably occupied an entire coffeeshop table.

Proposal:

It is difficult to politely kick out a customer.

So we turn to a technical solution to discourage long-term laptop use: harsh overhead lighting.

Specifically, we propose strategically arranged spotlights (Fig. 2) that will be generally acceptable but will cause unbearable screen glare when reflecting off a laptop screen.

laoptop-view

Fig 2: The array of ceiling lights (blue) is calculated to cause maximum laptop glare at all screen angles.

laoptop-shinylaptop-glare

Fig 3: At left, we can see the reflecting lights in the (turned off) laptop screen. At right, note how the glare makes the computer unusable (compare to the laptop screen in Fig. 1).

Conclusion:

If you own a coffeeshop and hate your customers, you should give this plan a shot!

PROS: Increases patron turnover and discourages long-term occupancy of tables.

CONS: It is possible that the substantial fraction of a coffeeshop’s patrons only go there to use their laptops, so cutting off this revenue may deal a fatal blow to the shop’s profitability.

 

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