MealOrderHelper is an SMS bot aiming at helping students with busy schedules at CMU order lunch/dinner easier.
I came up with this idea from the friction that I have experienced during the process of ordering meals in Wechat groups from nearby restaurants. From my observation, most of the Chinese students at CMU are having the same frustrating experience: We need to first join a number of meal delivery groups on Wechat. Since each restaurant has their own group, our main chat screens have been filled these groups with unwanted messages popping up all day. Then we type messages to tell the meal provider number meals we would like to order, the location we would like to pick up (choose one from Gate Building, Cyrt Hall, and Library) and other add-ons. Sometimes the meal provider will miss someone’s order due to a large number of messages. Finally, when the meal provider arrives on campus, he will notify students to pick up by sending a message in the group. That time is not fixed every day so students will need to constantly check the messages in groups in order not to miss their meals.
On the meal providers’ side, Wechat has a limit of 500 people at maximum for each group, so some of the restaurants have up to 4 groups to manage, which adds to the difficulty for them to organize and track everything. Some students will change pick-up location, cancel meals or change beverages after making an order, which makes it even messier for them to record everything precisely.
Therefore, I see the opportunity of making a chatbot to connect each student and each meal provider. With its help, students only need one conversation interface to order meals from different restaurants without having to endure endless popping-up messages created by other students making orders. Also, meal providers no longer need to keep eyes on various chat groups and keep track of everything. The chatbot should automatically generate a neat list of order details for them.
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