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OPLIN 4Cast #639: Fast food will soon be coming with a side of high-tech

Posted in 4cast, and Food

I don’t tend to give a lot of thought to fast food (and tend to avoid it outright). However, recently, I did take my son to McDonald’s drive-through, and was struck by the new screen that showed what I was ordering and how much it cost, in real time. It was much larger than the previous readout that had been attached to the ordering speaker. The readability was significantly better, with black text on a white background, instead of looking like an enlarged digital watch from the 1980s. That’s not to say I was thrilled to be at a McDonald’s, but I could at least appreciate the improvement in the user experience.

As it turns out, the changes to the order readout is the least of the those that are likely coming. Not just to McDonald’s, but to fast food in general. Surprisingly, the news is filled with how fast food tech is evolving.

  • McDonalds bites on Big Data with $300 million acquisition [Wired] “Algorithms crunch data as diverse as the weather, time of day, local traffic, nearby events, and of course historical sales data, both at that specific franchise and around the world. In the new McDonald’s machine-learning paradigm, significant display real estate goes toward showing customers what other items have been popular at that location, and prompting them with potential upsells. Thanks for your Happy Meal order; maybe you’d like a Sprite to go with it. “
  • Why we should all be worried about McDonald’s investment in AI [The Telegraph] “The deal means McDonald’s can now use a combination of intrusive personal data collection and intelligent algorithmic advertising to reveal a potential customers’ guiltiest pleasures, and perhaps even if they had one too many drinks the night before. “
  • ‘Holly’ will change the way you order fast food [] “Being the first location in the United States to use artificial intelligence in the fast food ordering process, Carpenter said it could take time for customers to adjust to the change. However, with artificial intelligence technology transforming industries across the world, Carpenter said his company had a great opportunity to operate at the forefront of the technology in the food industry. “
  • How self-cooking kitchens are being franchised in restaurants [Forbes] ” ‘No longer does a line cook need to stand over a griddle flipping and scraping chicken, kebabs and salmon or watching for the proper cooked temperature, crispness and golden caramelization that we expect in our food. They simply place food on a tray and load it into the self-cooking center. They then select a preprogrammed cooking profile by touching an actual photo of the product they are cooking on a digital display and press start. They are free to do other tasks while the cooking program runs,’ Hodak explains. “

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