What is now arguably one of the most popular food ordering and delivery apps in the UK, Just Eat, was initially cooked up in a basement in Denmark 15 years ago.
Now, copycat food tech start-ups hawking recipe kits to meal deliveries are mushrooming across London. Despite having a strong market presence in the UK, Just Eat still has one eye on staying ahead of the competition, rolling out futuristic technology in the fields of virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, self-driving delivery robots and other innovations.
Chief executive David Buttress stresses that technology is at the heart of everything they do at Just Eat. “We are always seeking ways to help our restaurant partners grow and ensure new and existing customers have a reliable, convenient and, increasingly, fun experience when they order from us. Technology innovation helps us bring the greatest breadth of choice to consumers while giving our fantastic restaurant partners the tools and resources to further their own ambitions.” Here are some of the highlights.
Starship Technologies delivery robots
In September, Just Eat began testing self-driving delivery robots on the streets of London, designed to increase delivery capacity for restaurant partners. Pilots are now taking place in Greenwich, ahead of the first live customer delivery.
Virtual reality (VR)
VR has captured the world’s imagination, from helping surgeons train for tricky procedures to teaching children in developing communities through immersive experiences. The food tech sector, however, is yet to exploit the potential of this technology. As an industry first, Just Eat is experimenting with the fully immersive capabilities of VR to help their restaurant partners truly understand their business by providing a bird’s eye view of orders that can highlight patterns, hot spots and opportunities for growth.
Another first in food technology, Just Eat is rolling out an augmented reality (AR) feature for users to sift through food options like at a buffet for them to pick and choose from.
The home of the future
Already integrated as a launch skill for Amazon Echo, Just Eat today revealed the app it has been working on for Apple TV, launching in January 2017. The company also exclusively unveiled its brand new app for Xbox One, which is set to launch in time for Christmas. These technologies will form an important part of the living rooms of the future, according to Just Eat, as more and more people incorporate ordering in as part of their everyday lives.
Customer care chatbots
Built using the Microsoft Bot framework, the customer care chatbot brings artificial intelligence (AI) into the ordering experience to intuitively address customer concerns around the clock. A similar development for Facebook Messenger engages with customers to inspire their food choices. Customers can chat with the bot to talk through their food choices, to which the bot will pose suggestions.
In support of innovation and research into new technologies, Just Eat recently announced the launch of its Food Tech Accelerator programme, supported by YFood, Dreamstake and other partners to help fledgling food technology start-ups get off the ground.