Technology

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Food Futures: Take-out gets more app-etising

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Still struggling to order a takeaway from your smartphone? Well, get ready for a new wave of curated food platforms that promise to redefine our relationship with eating-in. Delivery-only restaurants are here, and zero-cost delivery by self-driving car (or skateboard!) isn’t as impossible as it sounds.

For years, food delivery services have competed by offering us more and more choice, hosting thousands of different restaurants within one easy-to-use interface. But a quick look to America –fast becoming a saturated market place– shows a wealth of tech developments heading their way here.

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Maple led the way in delivery-only dining

First there was Maple, the much-anticipated delivery-only restaurant backed by Momofuku’s David Chang. There are only three lunch and dinner options on the daily-changing menu. Orders include tax, tip and delivery, and arrive within 30 minutes.

Arcade takes it a step further and offers just one option per day. It’s aimed specifically at office workers and Arcade texts users each morning with that day’s dish. If they reply “Yes” by 11 am, it’s delivered to in time for lunch.

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Sprig app delivers healthy meals using predictive analytics

Still with me? Well Sprig, another delivery-only restaurant, uses predictive analytics in bigger markets such as Palo Alto, to begin delivering dishes before they have even been ordered. That’s right, you might not know what you want for lunch, but Sprig do and it’s probably already being cooked for you.

This acceleration in technology reflects a broader fixation on convenience amongst young consumers: In a recent JWT Intelligence Group report, 63% of millennials said online food delivery services have made meals much easier, but only 22% of boomers felt the same way.

With the advent of self-driving cars, food could eventually be delivered on devices resembling heated skateboards

Silicon Valley luminaries prefigured this consensus amongst millennials and now predict that delivery will become a larger part of food retail in general. Adam D’Angelo, CEO at Quora, thinks that with the advent of self-driving cars, food could eventually be delivered on devices resembling heated skateboards. “The cost of delivery goes almost all the way to zero,” he said. “With a cost so low, there will suddenly be much more demand for delivery. The ordering interface would be like the Netflix of food.

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UberEATS turns your personal driver into your personal bearer of food

On the subject of self-driving cars, the much anticipated delivery service from Uber; UberEATS turns your personal driver into your personal bearer of food. In the US, UberEATS promises dishes delivered within 10 minutes with a flat-rate delivery fee of $4. Their entry into the food sector means consumers in this area are slowly becoming familiar with ratings, personalisation and ubiquitous data. Just as Uber, Airbnb and many more allowed peer-to-peer rating systems to thrive in the transport and hospitality sectors, the same is now set to happen in food. Currently, information is available in a scattershot manner, but in the future every product -including your take-out- will use technology to tell you its story. You’ll know everything from the fertilisers it was grown with, to its journey in the kitchen and the CO2 emissions produced through delivery.

Heated skateboards that deliver food to your doorstep may be a thing of science fiction, for now, but technology in the food sector is taking off. Time to get to grips with your smartphone and get ordering!

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