Friday, April 06, 2007

We Won't Cook It Until You Enter the Parking Lot

NEWS.COM -- Hyperactive Bob (horrible name) is a new product being installed into fast food restaurants. It uses cameras to identify cars coming into the parking lot. Using what it has learned about that particular restaurant (the selling patterns at different times of day, days of week, types of food typically ordered, etc.), it can begin to provide instructions to the workers about what foods to prepare. End result, food that's fresher than waiting-for-you-under-the-heatlamp and faster than we-don't-cook-it-until-you-order it. Interesting thing is that they said their intial work in trying to predict based on the type of car ended up being completely useless. More...

At my last job the elevators were connected to a small PC that showed their status. I would regularly think about what would be involved in writing a program that learned and became predicative of where the next elevator request would come from and could eventually start positioning elevators where they were needed so that when you pressed the button, it was waiting for you. Mostly I would think about that while running up or down the stairs because I didn't want to wait the 30-60 seconds for the elevator to arrive after pressing the buttons and hearing the tell-tale sign of the engine powering up to lift or lower the elevator from some other floor to where I was.
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