Domino’s Pizza Artificial Intelligence Play Demonstrates Data’s Immense Value

Domino’s Pizza Artificial Intelligence Play Demonstrates Data’s Immense Value

Instagram models and pizza – strange bedfellows perhaps back in the Nineties – but in today’s anything-goes, Internet-driven society? Like milk and cookies, my friends….


Here’s another coupling to add to the strange bedfellows list: Domino’s Pizza and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning.

If you watched the Super Bowl this year (unbelievably, this is the second editorial I’ve come up with based on Super Bowl commercials, so I guess marketers are doing their jobs…) you probably caught the Domino’s Pizza commercial informing the pizza consuming world at-large that you can now actually earn a free Domino’s pizza just by submitting smartphone images of competitors’ pizzas, frozen pizzas baked at home – any pizza really, via the company’s mobile app.

The Ann Arbor, MI-based pizza chain behemoth dubbed the program “Points for Pies” and although its introduction came as a bit of a surprise for this author, well, perhaps it shouldn’t have? Dominos has always been the pizza chain with the tech bent, being the first national chain to equip its driver fleets with delivery bags that heated up via the car’s cigarette lighter, and their online pizza tracker is for sure a useful solution for those that don’t want to waste fifteen minutes of our big important lives (editor’s note: sarcasm) waiting in the lobby.


But this new Points for Pies deal is a whole another ballgame for Dominos.

Sure, the consumer can eventually collect enough points by submitting images of competitor’s pies (Domino’s is limiting it to one competitor’s pizza image per week, BOOOOO!) to get a free pizza from their neighborhood Domino’s, but the real kicker (for Domino’s) is the pizza image recognition database it is building via crowd-sourced images of its competitors’ products.

That data is so important, so vital and valuable and of immense potential from a marketing standpoint, that the company is willing to give away some of its product for free (okay it’s not really free, but you get the point) in order to incentivize its customer base to construct this new-fangled pizza AI/ML-powered image recognition database. Because, really, who the hell doesn’t love free pizza? I’m waiting…

Perhaps this all begs the question: What will Domino’s do with all those images of other companies’ pizzas? Beats the hell out of this author, but I have some guesses. They could potentially use the data to correlate what types of pizza certain customers in certain geographies prefer most often, and market customized discounts, products and offers directly to those consumers that suit their unique needs and wants, thus making them more likely to choose Domino’s the next time they order a ‘Za.

Blue River Technologies testing its See & Spray R&D rig outside Lubbock, TX, during the summer of 2017.

So, why exactly are we talking about AI/ML -powered pizza recognition programs?

I’m hoping this rings a bell for all out there that have followed our site over the years, because this effort by Domino’s is awfully similar to the weed image cataloging campaign I witnessed the team at Blue River Technologies in the midst of when they invited me down to Lubbock, TX, back in 2017 to see the process behind this groundbreaking new-at-the-time concept known as “See & Spray.”

While one half of team was locked into development runs with the See & Spray rig on a cotton field just outside of town, another team was further off in the countryside pushing a downward-facing camera rig around dusty cotton field filled with tiny weeds, capturing the imagery that powers the Blue River rig to sense and differentiate weeds from viable crops and react on the fly.

Or, there’s the former-Bayer-now-BASF digital farming platform known as xarvio, which reared its veritable head back in 2017 at the Agritechnica Show in Hannover, Germany. xarvio is a multi-faceted digital precision farming mobile platform, but the aspect most closely related to what Domino’s is doing is its crowd-sourced smartphone agronomy portal, where growers from all over the world submit smartphone images of weeds and insect and disease pressures, then xarvio’s algorithms run over the submitted images, and the app spits back an agronomic diagnosis (and, eventually, a product recommendation geo-targeted to the nearest approved retailer). We’re hearing BASF has some announcements on xarvio to share at the upcoming Commodity Classic show in Orlando, FL, so stay tuned to these pages for that…

But, back to Domino’s.

Watching a company like Domino’s in an industry not really known for its tech adoption take an early adopter position with AI/ML and Big Data is encouraging. It backs up the notion for those of us in farming that the data that we create every day in our fields and orchards ACTUALLY IS of extreme value to the manufacturing channel, or anyone that wishes to market products and services to farmers and their agronomists.

And as more and more companies in ag attempt to harness the power of AI/ML to automate processes that still stuck somewhere in the margins between the analog and digital ages, field-captured data will only grow its intrinsic value.

And hey, now you can get a free pizza out of the whole deal, too.

Just watch out for that stupid Noid!