Technologies that are changing the food industry

Ariba Jahan

Technology is constantly changing the way we do business – and now it’ even changing the way we enjoy our food. Let’s take a look at three innovative technologies that are changing the food industry: Autonomous cars, augmented reality and facial recognition!

Self-driving cars will be bringing pizza to your door!

Ford and Domino’s have partnered up and are testing  self-driving vehicles that  deliver pizza! The autonomous pizza delivery testing will start off with Domino’s customers in Ann Arbor, Michigan, since most of the self-driving cars are being designed and manufactured in that area.

Randomly selected customers will be given the option to have their pizza delivered in a Ford Fusion Hybrid research vehicle (who would not choose this?!). Not only will customers get to monitor their pizza-making progress, now they can track the autonomous vehicle’s driving progress. When the car arrives, the customers will get a specific key code to open the car door and retrieve their pizza. Yes, this does mean you must step out of your home to realize your pizza dreams, but at least nobody can steal your pizza if they see the car.  Ford is hoping to understand the business opportunity of self-driving cars and research what their users think of them – whether people have a distrust for them and why, would they mind stepping out of their house, and how they review the entire experience.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid first appeared at CES 2017, you can read more about the car here and more about the Domino’s autonomous pizza delivery on Engadget and the Verge.

Before you order, preview your food in augmented reality!

Ever order food based on its description and then when it arrives you’re completely disappointed? Well now you can preview the food in augmented reality before making your decision! A startup called Kabaq has created a tool that allows restaurants to present their menu items in 3D, so customers can interact with their options before committing to one! Additionally, this can help with the cultural and language barriers that may currently prevent customers from asking questions or knowing what to order.

About 15 restaurants have already started using Kabaq and they can use the 3D-generated models as menu previews on their website, social media and other marketing materials. Kabaq is creating an API library (application programming interface) where menu items and their AR 3D models will be accessible to I wonder if soon we’ll be seeing AR food models in Yelp and Foursquare?

Want to give an AR menu a try? Download the free Kabaq app and browse through the AR food items now on Android and iOS.

Want to pay for your food? Just smile.

If you stroll into Beijing’s KPRO restaurant (KFC’s healthy, fresh food alternative), you’ll be able to pay for your food simply by smiling. This store allows customers to pay for food by using facial recognition enabled by Smile to Pay software.

Smile to Pay (created by Alibaba’s Ant Financial) has designed a payment process that doesn’t require a phone nor physical currency, assuming the customer has already set up an account on the Alipay app and has enabled their facial recognition. Alibaba has launched 10 cashless stores in China and plans to launch even more facial recognition retail stores.

I’m so excited to see these technological advancements being applied to how we order and receive our food. But I’m curious how customers’ trust levels and social norms affect whether they adopt these new products or not.

Ultimately, I’m interested in seeing how these applications evolve to aid those with cultural, language and ability barriers.