This article on a predictive program known as HyperActive Bob, predicts incoming meal orders at restaurants by scanning cars coming in through the line-ups and matching vehicle type to estimated number of people and predicted food types in order to cut food waste, boost margins, decrease line-ups, and smooth out kitchen operations. I think this is a brilliant little application. How many other applications could you think of for this technology?

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The system, known as “HyperActive Bob,” is in place in several restaurants around Pittsburgh in a primitive form: It tells employees when they are about to get busy, even how much food to put on the grill.

The system uses rooftop cameras that monitor traffic entering a restaurant’s parking lot and drive-thru. Currently, the system is all about volume: If a minivan pulls in, there’s apt to be more than one mouth to feed.

By this time next year, HyperActive Technologies expects to have in place software that keys on the type of vehicle entering the parking lot to determine whether the customers they bear are inclined to order, say, a burger over a chicken sandwich.

As it is, the currently installed technology — the predictive system is only running simulations for now — has wowed some seasoned veterans.

“I’ve been a manager for 28 years,” said Pat Currie, a manager at a McDonald’s in Chippewa Township. “It’s the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen.”

HyperActive Bob is now at seven area McDonald’s, a Burger King and a Taco Bell.

It was installed at Currie’s restaurant two years ago. Since then, waste has been cut in half and wait times at the drive-thru have been reduced by 25 to 40 seconds per consumer, Currie said — an eternity in the fast-food industry.

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