Robots Will Choose Your Next Meal

Do You Want Robots To Choose Your Next Meal? Some Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs Are Betting On It.

Uber’s success has inspired investors to pour billions of dollars applying the same logic of the on-demand economy to other services. Laundry, liquor shopping, weed delivery, dog walking, car washes, and, of course, eating have all been revolutionized. Every chore could now become an app on a smartphone: press it and your problem is solved. While the on-demand economy is supposed to help you simplify your life, it’s not enough. Some entrepreneurs are already building the future while looking for ways to make life even simpler.

Predicting Your Next Purchases

The anticipatory economy model is when companies anticipate your future purchases and make them available to you, even before you need to order them. The idea is not new either. In 2014, Amazon gained a patent for what it calls “anticipatory shipping”. This method allows packages to start getting delivered before customers even click “buy.” While it’s very difficult to predict what people might want to buy, it’s no secret that people need to eat every day.

Listen, we spend a lot of time thinking about our next meals. In fact, recent data shows we spend more than 53 hours per year at the grocery store and more than 2 hours per day cooking or preparing our meals. Some entrepreneurs believe they could help us avoid doing these tasks, thanks to predictive algorithms.

Building Technology To Order Your Next Meal

Retailers are increasingly taking advantage of our smart homes to enable us to purchase food. Amazon is experimenting with Dash Buttons that allow customers to automatically re-order their favorite food with the press of a button. The Amazon Echo allows people to order any product available on Amazon by simply using their voice. Domino’s Pizza has built an Alexa Skill to enable their customers to automatically order their favorite pizza using Amazon Echo. Finally, earlier this year at the CES, Samsung presented what could become your new favorite way to shop for groceries. Thanks to cameras and a wireless connection to the internet, this smart fridge knows what ingredients you have at home and will be able to automatically place orders when you’re running out of them. Don’t be surprised to see Instacart enabling these kind of grocery purchases really soon either.

More recently, startups have been leveraging new technologies to provide meal recommendations and suggestions. Platejoy is one of the first companies to test this idea. Platejoy asks users for 50 different data points about their health and taste preferences. Its “personalization quiz” asks about users’ favorite ingredients, allergies, family or household size, weight loss goals, schedule and more. Thanks to a sophisticated algorithm, Platejoy will then send personalized recipes and a list of ingredients to buy every single week. Plus, due to their recent partnership with Instacart, you can even save the trip to the store by electing to have the ingredients delivered to your home instead. Could this be the evolution of convenience stores taking place before your eyes?

Forkable is another company that’s pushing the edge of dietary technology. They’re using machine learning to figure out what you want for lunch, before you even know it! Forkable targets companies who provide lunch for their employees. Their AI program then helps order food on a large scale for individuals, without needing the direct input from the workers when the order is being placed. Once a group signs up, each individual inputs their preferences and dietary restrictions. From there, the program schedules lunches on a weekly basis for each person. The lunches are then delivered at the designated time, without needing any additional input. After enjoying the meal, each person can rate their experience. This helps the AI learn what each individual likes and how to customize their orders in the future.

Algorithms already recommend the next book you’ll read on Kindle, the next show you’ll watch on Netflix and even your next date on OkCupid! Now they would like to take care of the food you eat every day.

Are you ready for robots to choose your next meal?

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.