You know the time between when you order a meal for delivery or takeout and when it arrives? The ‘hanger gap’? Well, Amazon wants to eliminate that waiting time between when you get hungry and when the food arrives by predicting exactly when you want to eat and preemptively ordering a meal for you.
How exactly would they do that? According to a patent just issued to Amazon on February 20th for “Predictive Restaurant Ordering”, they would use an AI-based modeling engine to anticipate customer needs based on variety of inputs. These could include past orders, as well as contextual information such as calendar appointments, location, caloric intake for the day and the amount of exercise a person has had. The patent suggests that one way it could access this information is by obtaining it from personal electronic devices such as smartphones, wearables, and personal computers.
The proposed system could also take a stab at what restaurant a person would want to order from that night by analyzing past behavior and using inputs such as various check-ins they’ve had on social networks like Facebook.
It’s fascinating – if not entirely surprising – to see the company working on anticipatory based ordering systems. I imagine they are probably working on similar anticipatory ordering for groceries, especially as the company doubles down on food retail with Amazon Go and Whole Foods.
And if all this sounds a bit creepy, that’s because it is. Tracking our behavior and shopping for us before we actually have the thought is just a bit too Black Mirror-ish for my taste, even if it would help me to avoid the hanger-gap.
Of course, it should be noted that Amazon hasn’t launched any service based on this technology, at least not yet. The company is amassing patents at a breathtaking rate, and there’s always a good chance they won’t ever launch services based on many of them. Conversely, Amazon is constantly pushing the boundaries around commerce, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we do see some form of anticipatory restaurant ordering someday from the Seattle tech giant.
In that case, for future reference, I’ll take a BLT on sourdough. But then, they probably already know that.