By Nor Hafieza
Remember the days when we ignored our cravings for our favorite meal because of the thought of having to face bad traffic, unfavourable weather, the need to dress up, limited parking slots, and long queues at the restaurants? All of these concerns seem to be a thing of the past with online food ordering applications and websites, as we can now find a large variety and selection of dishes and drinks in seconds by scrolling through apps on our smartphones. We can order while watching our latest Netflix series or for family gatherings and the best part is, we don’t have to move as the food is delivered to our doorstep!
In 2019, the market size of the global online food delivery sector was USD107.44 billion. By 2023 the market is expected to have grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.51% to reach USD154.34 billion*. No surprises here, especially when living in the new norm due to the pandemic, online food ordering apps have become necessary in our everyday life as we seek to avoid crowds and stay indoors as much as possible.
Due to the vast growth of the online food ordering market, many inventors have taken this opportunity to develop significant inventions to achieve market demand.
Before we look at some of these inventions, let’s take a look at some of the patenting trends in the food delivery domain:
Based on the patenting trends, we see that inventors must have anticipated the growth in the food delivery domain and started research and development in this area as early as 2012. An upward trend is seen starting 2015 and the highest number of patent applications were published in 2018. China and the US are seen as the preferred jurisdictions for filing these applications.
Now, let’s look at some fascinating food ordering and delivery related inventions:
1) Mobile Food Order in Advance Systems
In 2018, US company Allstate Insurance Co, filed a patent application (US Patent No.: 10586294B1) regarding an invention of a computer-implemented method and system for ordering food remotely or from a vehicle for pick-up or delivery by providing the use of an application on a mobile device that provides information that allows the ordering.
The information is very helpful as it enables the users or the system to automatically place an order based on previous orders, make electronic payment for the food, prioritize the restaurants based on the user preferences and receive a reward based on the mobile food order. In addition, the telematics information regarding a user and/or the vehicle can be accessed from a telematics device to get the information regarding the location, velocity, route, and destination, which helps to provide a prioritized ranked list of restaurants for the user.
Another exciting part of this computer-implemented method and system is it may utilize insurance information, i.e., locations and instances for previous accidents and previous insurance claims to provide additional features and enhance the mobile food order method and system. This invention not only allows a user to experience a convenient and fast mobile food ordering experience but it is also safe!
2) Method and Apparatus for Online Ordering Via a Hybrid Database Implementation for Quick Data Retrieval
A mobile app needs to be quick and user-friendly to satisfy customers who are ordering food online. Many applications require the users to select a vendor first. After selecting a potential vendor, users explore the vendor’s menu, and depending on price, delivery cost, delivery/pickup time, distance, supported payment method, and etc, the vendor may end up not being their desired choice. To explore other potential vendors, users then need to go back and repeat the process. I am sure we have all experienced this situation!
Taking this cumbersome experience into consideration, in 2020, Celentro Inc. filed an application (US Patent Application No.: 17/101,634) on a dynamic search using a predefined index for quick data retrieval. With this hybrid database, a purchaser can place an order prior to selecting the vendor and the purchaser information and order will be received by a server that will match the items with available vendors that offer the selected food order and send a document to the client, comprising a list of vendors matching the order and other details that are specific to each vendor. Then, the purchaser sends the server a request to proceed in response to the selection of the vendor to enable the server to send a checkout page to the purchaser to finish the order upon receiving a finalized order. Lastly, the purchaser sends information needed to finish the order and the server receives the requested information and generates the order. This will surely give a whole new user experience in online food ordering.
3) Convertible Food Delivery Bag with an Adjustable Divider
Food delivery is not complete without a delivery bag. A good delivery bag plays a very important role in ensuring the food is delivered in its best condition. In 2018, Amazon Technologies, Inc. received a granted patent (US Patent No.: 10092137B1) for their invention of a thermal delivery bag for hot or cold food delivery. There is no doubt that maintaining food temperature is a major concern for restaurants when delivering food to make sure their customers will get food that is within an ideal temperature range, safe to consume and of course provide the same experience as they would in the restaurants. This convertible food delivery bag comes with an adjustable divider and can adapt its shape from a horizontal configuration to a vertical (tote) configuration. Additionally, the dividers can be moved or repositioned to change the size of the internal sections while maintaining the thermal isolation of each internal section to optimize use depending on the type of food being transported. For extra safety while travelling, coupling magnets are installed to one or more ferrous strips in the bag to enable the divider to be held in a desired position or orientation. With this convertible food delivery bag, food can be delivered without worry.
4) Delivery of Food Items by Aerial or Ground Drones to and from Delivery Vehicles
Why drive when you can fly? The need for contactless and speedy deliveries is felt even more today and hence Zume Inc. came up with a vehicle for preparation and drone-based delivery of food items in their US Patent Application No. 20200167722. The patent application discloses that the vehicle includes a sterile environment for preparation of food as well as docking stations for storing a plurality of drones. The vehicle is also equipped with on-board controller that provides the vehicle with information regarding the food order which is to be prepared, controls one or more food preparation equipment to execute the preparation of the food items, checks availability and/or delivery progress of the drones and controls an operation of the drones to carry the prepared food items to multiple delivery locations.
The inventions above show that the growing technology in online food delivery market offers a win-win situation not only to the applicants but also to restaurants owners and customers alike. The technology also enables restaurant owners to expand their current customer base and make the business visible to customers who would have probably never come knocking at their door, while customers can get their favorite meals in a quick, easy, and comfortable way.
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