How food bots will help you to eat better

April 26, 2017

By: Rafael Tonon

If real robots are taking too long to conquer our kitchens, the bots have been taking gastronomy scene by storm. Chatbots, to be more precise. In the end of last year, The Los Angeles Times’ acclaimed food critic Jonathan Gold got his chatbot twin to advise his readers about where to eat in the big Los Angeles.

Nicknamed Goldbot and “wearing” the same fedora and suspender as his namesake, the robotic version of the self-proclaimed “belly of Los Angeles” counts on Gold’s encyclopedic knowledge to help users to find the perfect spot to fit their needs – and kill their munchies.

One can ask Goldbot for recommendations based on anything one wants: location, price, type of food, kind of restaurant… The bot can also deliver Jonathan Gold’s latest reviews straight to your device, just as fast as Googling it.

jonathan_goldbot_la_times

Goldbot is a messaging bot that lives on Facebook and “he” was developed to improve the relation to LA Time’s readers. The bot is an important step for higher interaction and engagement that only Artificial Intelligence machines can offer – majorly with an increasing demand. And something that can really change the food and restaurants industry.

Automated conversations

Some weeks ago, Facebook announced several business-focused updates to its Messenger app in order to create more “personal” interaction for its clients. The company estimates 48 million businesses have enabled Messenger to communicate directly with customers – both existing and new ones.  In the “type and screen era”, nobody wants to talk anymore, and the chatbots seem to serve the actual needs: businesses can automate conversations and simulate a human conversation at the same time.

The point here is how technology can help companies and restaurants to increase their customer satisfaction – and it’s something already known that clients want to be heard – and responded to. More recently, many food businesses got in the trend, such as Pizza Hut, Friday’s and Domino’s – where you can order by a chatbot (simply by typing “pizza” to their Facebook Messenger bot) and get delivered by a real robot.

marsbot-foursquare

The friend who (really) knows your taste

Foursquare jumped on with Marsbot, a contextually aware  and personalized restaurant recommendation service, using all the years of data on local venues and consumer behavior to feed its technology. By tracking your movements and where you usually dine, the app proactively texts you recommendations that fits your preferences. It’s way better than that friend who usually thinks he knows your food tastes and always gives bad tips. The Marsbot goal, according to the Foursquare Product Manager, Marissa Chacko, is to give users the answers before they even ask — just based on where they are and where they usually go.

DinnerIdeasBot2

For home cooking, Dinner Ideas is a bot that helps you to prepare a special meal for your friends: instead of spending lots of time searching for the best recipe, you can give the bot some idea of what you are looking for and it will crawl every recipe database and bring back the best options.

Intelligent delivery

Delivery businesses also created bot versions to meet an increasing demand of people ordering food instead of cooking it: OrderNow (for Kik Messenger) automatically sorts over more than 100,000 restaurants for proximity and delivery time to reduce the real time the food takes to get to you. Foodbot is a Facebook chatbot technology created to help restaurants let their customers discover their menu, place orders, and reserve tables by chatting with a bot directly in Facebook Messenger.

The real gain is not only to offer to the public a better interaction tool – helping them to get what (and when) they really want – but also to obtain real time feedbacks: by the data reports these bots can provide, companies can quickly see exactly what consumers are looking for and program its specific functionalities – improving their chatbots, making them smarter and more useful. These machice-driven interaction technologies can enable an unprecedent engagement with clients, in a more customized e personalized way –  and in fewer clicks, which means less time spent by the clients. And possibly more money to the companies.

Rafael Tonon

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Rafael Tonon is a journalist and food writer. He writes about food, drinks and trends in gastronomy. He contributes to many media outlets, such as Eater, Vice, Slate and more. He maintains the trend food blog What the Fork .

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