March 20, 2020
By Dennis Kaiser
Seattle, WA-based Minnow says its IoT-enabled food delivery and pickup stations, called Pickup Pods, can provide residential buildings, workplaces, and other businesses with a safer, no-contact way to manage food deliveries and pickups in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The venture-backed IoT startup conceived the system as a delivery and retrieval option at properties, much like the package lockers that have emerged over the past couple of years.
Food deliveries to residential buildings and workplaces are increasing now that restaurants are only offering delivery or takeout, and as people avoid unnecessary contact through ‘social distancing.’ Delivery services are responding by offering no-contact delivery, in which the delivery worker leaves the food on the consumer’s doorstep. That approach isn’t well suited to residential buildings and workplaces, where leaving unattended food in lobbies puts a burden on office and property managers that could become unmanageable as the volume and frequency of food deliveries increase.
Minnow has been field-testing its Pickup Pods in Portland, OR since May 2019. More than 4,000 orders have been delivered to and picked up from Minnow Pods located in office buildings in Portland. “Our technology has been tested and proven in a real-world environment,” said Steven Sperry, CEO of Minnow.
The company is also adapting its Pods to sterilize food containers and cubby interiors using its patent-pending UV light technology, which at the proper frequency and intensity is proven to kill bacteria and viruses. UV light is currently used in many food-related applications and is considered safe for food use.
A Minnow Pickup Pod takes up less than three square feet of floor space and can be installed anywhere. It requires only a standard 120V electrical outlet and can operate on either a WiFi or cellular network. Each Pod consists of cubbies that are individually insulated to keep food fresher longer and secure to prevent theft and tampering. Since Pods require no integration with food delivery apps, tenant experience platforms, or restaurant point-of-sale systems, any food delivery service or restaurant can deliver to a Minnow Pod.
Minnow’s Pickup Pods can be used in office buildings, co-working spaces, hospitals, schools, colleges, corporate campuses, residential buildings, assisted living communities and other locations where food is delivered.
When food is delivered to a Minnow Pod, the consumer will receive a notification and can pick up the food at their convenience. Until then, it will be kept in a secure, insulated cubby. To pick up their food, a consumer simply uses their smartphone to tap a hyperlink embedded in a text message; Minnow Pods have no touch screens or keypads that can spread virus particles. The cubby doors open automatically.
“The coronavirus global pandemic is changing daily life around the world,” added Sperry. “We’ll be dealing with this for some time to come. Minnow’s solution can help employers and property managers keep their employees and tenants safer by avoiding unnecessary contact during food deliveries. Minnow’s Pickup Pods can also help keep restaurant and food delivery workers safer by enabling them to deliver food securely and without being exposed to a consumer who may be ill.”
For comments, questions or concerns, please contact Dennis Kaiser