Consumers don't have to look much farther to see the future of dining than Hack//Dining NYC, a weekend-long hackathon run by Food+Tech Connect in collaboration with Applegate, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, Google, and Studio Industries. Over the course of two and a half days, almost two hundred participants from the worlds of development and design joined forces with the food industry to respond to four challenges in the food system today.
Food+Tech Connect CEO and founder Danielle Gould says, "This isn't about making a nifty app or creating tech for tech's sake. We're here to create real world solutions for real world problems."
Incorporating design thinking into the typical hackathon environment allowed outsiders to the restaurant and institutional dining worlds to dive more deeply into the challenges and accelerated the speed of innovation. Working in groups of one to five members, teams competed to qualify for the final round of pitching, where they presented their hacks to a panel of judges comprising Wylie Dufresne, Naveen Selvadurai, Esther Dyson, and more.
Following a quick-fire pitching session, the judges awarded the top honors to the following hacks.
Rumble: Responding to the Applegate challenge, "How might we use technology to empower customers to better communicate their food preferences to foodservice establishments and suppliers?," Rumble developed the Yelp of campus foodservice, an online interface for university students to provide feedback on their dining hall offerings. Students can create profiles and rate their meals, while dining facilities are able to improve their service through the accumulation of actionable consumer analytics.
Kitchen Check: Responding to the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group challenge, "How might we use technology to make it easier for restaurants to comply with and maintain food safety regulations?," Kitchen Check created the TurboTax of food safety regulations. Using an interactive form localized at the county or city regulatory level, Kitchen Check generates a list of requirements for restaurants, food trucks, and other dining facilities to be in compliance with local, state, and federal laws.
Just Right: Responding to the Chipotle challenge, "How might we use technology to help quick service restaurants (QSR) measure the environmental sustainability of how their stores are designed, built, and operated?," Just Right created an app and rewards program that empowers the consumer to "right size" their burrito, salad, or rice bowl order and incentivizes sustainable and healthy choices with points that can be redeemed for free Chipotle food.
Hive: Responding to the Google challenge, "How might corporate foodservice use technology to help people make food and behavior choices that allow them to achieve their personal and professional lifestyle goals?," Hive utilizes the world of smart and wearable technology to create an all-encompassing online personal trainer and nutritionist with a nutritional dashboard, digital weigh-ins, before and after selfies, and the option for employer reward systems to incentivize your success.
All Hack//Dining NYC participants were able to access and build on the work of partners like the Orange Chef's PrepPad, Ingredient 1, and Jawbone. In turn, competing teams were encouraged to open source their own innovations in order to continue advancing innovation in the food system.
"The entire food system is hungry for change, from producers to distributors to consumers and everyone in between, and we have a still largely untapped opportunity for growth through technology," Gould says. "I am thrilled that our collaborating partners are committed to making their industries more effective, responsive, and sustainable."