Just Eat: voice technology will make your phone as good as a human

Voice input and artificial intelligence are close to being able to offer users an experience as seamless as visiting a restaurant, Just Eat's chief product and technology officer said.

Fernando Fanton was speaking to an audience at 4YFN, the start-up spin-off of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. He described Just Eat not as an app but a platform whose objective is to "reduce friction" and "open many more situations" for people to order food online.

He said: "One of the things we’re really excited about that we think will make a difference is voice interface.

"The problem of having to understand a particular way of communicating will fade away, and the experience will be as natural as going into a restaurant and asking a person, what should I eat today? We are not far away from that reality."

He predicted that "material improvements" in voice interfaces would arrive this year or next – but added that the business was also looking at technological avenues including augmented and virtual reality.

Fanton used his speech to announce the launch of a start-up accelerator programme, running for 12 weeks from April, which aims to find partners to improve the business environment in a number of ways.

"We need to offer our restaurant partners an open ecosystem," he said. "It’s not just about ecommerce, making a restaurant more profitable, but it’s about the entire world around us – what can we do to take care of food waste properly?"

Fanton acknowledged that this approach could lead to Just Eat bolstering its own potntial rivals: "The true competition in this space is in the future - it hasn't been invented yet."

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