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Revolutionizing Self-Service Dining: The 'Dining Flow' Project's Multifaceted Approach to Sustainability and Experience

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The University of Turku leads an ambitious endeavor, the Dining Flow project, funded with two million euros by Business Finland. This initiative, part of KONE's The Flow of Urban Life program under the Veturi initiative, seeks to redefine the self-service restaurant experience by enhancing customer satisfaction and reducing food waste, thus contributing significantly to sustainability efforts in the restaurant industry.

Dining Flow is a comprehensive project that merges the needs of the restaurant industry with the goals of sustainability. It focuses on understanding and improving the diner's experience in self-service settings while addressing the critical issue of food waste. The project's innovative approach includes the development of data-driven decision support tools, aimed at refining the decision-making process in these restaurants.

Central to this project is the University of Turku's Flavoria® research platform, a functioning self-service restaurant that doubles as a living lab. Here, researchers can monitor diner behaviors, choices, and preferences, alongside the volume of waste generated. The integration of data from various systems, like automatic doors, elevators, and building automation, forms a unique data ecosystem. This system is designed to predict and influence customer flow within the restaurant, optimizing both the dining experience and waste reduction.

Prof. Jaakko Järvi, Dean of the Faculty of Technology at the University of Turku, highlights the project's multidisciplinary nature, encompassing software engineering, mechanical engineering, experience design, and food science. This broad range of expertise underscores the project's innovative and holistic approach to tackling modern challenges.

The Dining Flow project is supported by a transdisciplinary team, featuring experts from various departments within the University of Turku, including Computing, Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Functional Food Forum, and Turku School of Economics. Collaborators from diverse industries, such as KONE, JAMIX, SmartKitchen, Haltian, Safera, METOS, SYK, and SODEXO, bring a wealth of experience and insights, enriching the project's scope and potential impact.

Janne Öfversten from KONE and Timo Lehto from JAMIX express their enthusiasm for this venture. Öfversten emphasizes KONE's commitment to improving urban life flow in a sustainable way, while Lehto sees this as a strategic opportunity for JAMIX to leverage professional kitchen data, enhancing global customer experiences and features.

Final Insight:

The Dining Flow project exemplifies a forward-thinking collaboration that harnesses technology and multidisciplinary expertise to address key challenges in the restaurant industry. It's a beacon of innovation in sustainability and customer experience, offering a model for future endeavors in urban space optimization and environmental responsibility.

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