Although it is still in its infancy and under development, we would nevertheless like to share the story of this project. Construction of the robot has not finished yet, the cooks are still working on the dishes, locations are being scouted and branding is not yet final. But one thing is clear—starting in 2020, we will launch a “micro unit” (e.g. a food truck) that is under construction as you are reading this.
It is always particularly exciting for us when customers come to us with a truly innovative approach to an existing industry. At the joint kick-off, we learned a great deal about the food service industry and its daily challenges, which are increasingly being met through technological innovations. At the same time, a robot is always a means to an end. For Aitme, customers and their wishes have never ceased to be the big cheese.
During the initial project phase, we received a long list of essential requirements. The goal was for the system to not only fulfil these requirements, but also communicate with hungry users accordingly. As the preparation of the dishes takes mere minutes, ordering must be just as swift and, while the menu on offer may be rather complex, using the robot had to be simple and intuitive. Furthermore, Aitme also sought wanted to emphasize that each dish can be adapted individually and thus cater to all palates and dietary needs.
Following the initial kick-off, it was up to us to quickly design a validated interface that developers could continue working with. To move things forward quickly, we took off on a classic one-week design sprint with the founders and their team of developers.
Our partners’ offices were on the 16th floor where temperatures topped 30°C—extreme conditions indeed, but if you can’t take the heat in the kitchen… This baptism by fire tested us and our partner’s team, but ultimately yielded good results in a short time. The collaboration allowed us to define our main goal and three central questions that we wanted to validate with real customers before the end of the week.
To prove that Aitme caters to all tastes, we developed a function that helps diners find what they are looking for at first glance.
We started by defining a large variety of diets, allergies and preferences. These were put together in a sentence with blanks for the customer to fill in. Throughout this process, we closely followed our main mantra from the design sprint: no assistance necessary.
As we continued to develop our concept, we reached an extremely user-oriented solution that no longer had to ask detailed questions about which dish the users preferred. Instead, we asked them who they are. In lieu of customers having to go through a lengthy list of ingredients, this insight enabled us to develop an intuitive and deep understanding of who we were feeding.
Although our prototype team was working from different locations in Hamburg and Berlin, thanks to Figma and Slack, we were able to test our final concept with six customers and fill our bulletin board with notes, quotes and insights.
The user-centered state-of-the-art design of the most essential element in our interface was very well received by customers. The knowledge gained in our tests enabled us to quickly find out where further improvement was still needed, react accordingly without delay and guide customers safely through the interaction with the Aitme terminal from start to finish.
A robotic, self-organized food truck is such a revolutionary concept with strong potential that it will only be a matter of time before the demand of the users will increase. One more step on the way to unlock that potential could be an App that gives users the chance to put together their menu and place their order in advance while saving their choices for future orders.
Modulr has helped us to focus on the things that really matter when developing a digital product.Emanuel Pallua, founder of Aitme & Foodora