Imagine that you go to a restaurant and when you enter the first thing you see is a screen. A camera with artificial vision will be detecting if you come alone or as a couple, if it is a family and if you are a man or a woman. Based on this information, the screen offers you different menu options. If it’s a family, family or sharing menus will appear. This is what Ladorian is dedicated to, a company specialized in Artificial Intelligence and data analysis that, since 2016, began its operations in Spain. “It has been shown that this type of AI increases billing. Not all restaurants can access this type of technology, but those that do have the profile work very well with these solutions”, comments Erich Eichstetter, head of digital transformation at the Basque Culinary Center Innovation. And it is that AI came to gastronomy a long time ago and this is just one example of how it can transform it.
On the one hand, this tool can optimize processes in a kitchen and, on the other, change the way restaurants work, directly affecting the diner’s experience. “Anyone who isn’t using these kinds of solutions right now will be wasting time or money, which is the same thing,” says Eichstetter. AI can take care of different cumbersome aspects in a kitchen, for example: the scheduling system, where reservations and all their specifications can be seen in real time. In addition, voice recognition for the inventory, where it will no longer be necessary to do it manually, but through voice commands the system configures it by itself.
According to the report State of the Digitization of the Hospitality Industry in Spain, carried out by BCC Innovation and Delectatech, 15.93% of the Spanish hospitality industry is largely digitized and 32.41% are in the process of becoming so. And it is Madrid, Barcelona, the Balearic Islands and Malaga who are leading the digital transformation in Spain.
DynamEat is a start up in Madrid that applies technologies that were already used in airlines and hotels to boost prices. “Normally, prices vary depending on the season: if it is high, prices go up and if it is low, they go down. In this case, if you are in a restaurant and it is full, maybe the prices go up a bit, or the menu is redistributed so that the dishes that come out of the kitchen the fastest appear first on the digital menu, or the things that are more difficult to bring out directly are not offered. In other words, everything is energized in real time according to supply and demand”, says Eichstetter. Another pioneer company is Satis.IA, which is responsible for avoiding errors and training staff to improve productivity through AI. They manage to maintain quality standards through artificial vision, that is, during the preparation of a recipe or an order, an alert will go off when a step is wrong. And NotCo also stands out, the famous start up Chilean products plant-based (plant-based) with offices in the United States, Argentina and Brazil. It has developed its recipes using an AI algorithm called Giuseppe that is dedicated to creating perfect combinations based on a list of vegetables to mimic flavors and textures identical to animal-based products we know.
AI and the customer relate
For the client there are also many benefits with the implementation of Artificial Intelligence. Gastronomic or nutritional customization is one of them. Today there are already different projects, especially in the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan that, through DNA, microbiota or blood tests, can obtain medical information about the client in order to design a special diet or nutritional supplements. This could be very useful for those people who suffer from allergies, intolerances or contraindications related to their diet. BCC Innovation implemented in LaBe Restaurant in San Sebastián, last June, a project where the letter revolved around the client’s genetic profile. In this sense, the couples before dinner were subjected to scientifically validated genetic tests developed by the IMDEA Food Institute research center in conjunction with the Autonomous University of Madrid. These studies yielded a comprehensive report that was used to develop a personalized letter based on the client’s DNA. This is how these results have revealed how their bodily processes affect their respective sports performance or aging, in addition to preventing intolerances or allergies.
The question of how the public reacts to the irreverent input of the AI is out of the question. Here there is a debate between those who think that it is a wonderful tool and others who, on the contrary, feel invaded in their privacy. Eichstetter defends that they are not invasive technologies and that people rarely know how it affects them. Although, he also believes that there is friction between people towards her. “People like personalized attention, for example: the diner still prefers to talk with the person who takes the note at the table, than to do it through QR, but these are things that will change over time. AI will be the new electricity, it will be in everything we do and use”, mentions the LaBe technology researcher.
Smart and innovative restaurants with AI
NÜA Smart Restaurant located in Barcelona is one of the first smart restaurants in Europe. Their tables are tablets or touch screens where you can consult the menu and also place the order and pay for it. In addition, customers can watch the news, play games and even order a taxi. These types of technologies are proving to optimize time, reduce errors and collaborate in customer entertainment.
Robots with artificial intelligence are another technological example that some restaurants already include in their offer. This is the case of Pokesito from the Urban Poke chain. These are robots that deliver orders to the table as if they were waiters. They are capable of offering their service at different speeds and incorporate a microphone and speaker with which it is possible to interact. In addition, it has the ability to avoid obstacles and as if this were not enough, the AI allows them to learn autonomously, fine-tuning their work routines and optimizing their efficiency.
In 2020, a start up Spanish commanded by Arnau Navarro, Pol Rosell and Carlos Marchal called Haddock developed a technology with optical recognition capable of recognizing letters and numbers written on paper and digitizing them automatically. This allows you to keep track of business expenses in real time. La Taquería, Miss Sushi, Guakame and Flax & Kale are some restaurants that, along with Haddock, have joined this wave and Can Pizza, located in Madrid and Barcelona, has even presented a pizza whose recipe has been made with AI.
The main objective of AI is to optimize time and effort, and if this translates into money, even better. It is unlikely that a chef would complain about not having to take inventories and count all the products one by one on each shelf, because there is already an algorithm that solves it in a second. Right now, one of the most present problems in the hospitality industry is the difficulty of reducing working hours. People are no longer willing to work 16-hour days. AI probably won’t replace a human, but it could definitely make life easier for those who work in this sector.