Indiana’s tech ecosystem is known for focusing on solutions for business needs. But what happens when we merge business technology with everyday consumer interactions?

One example of this is in the food industry, where the Internet-of-Things (IoT) is rapidly changing how both front- and back-of-house manage their operations seamlessly and with precision, two characteristics that are important for top chefs.

Fishers is seeing a lot of momentum around both food and tech. The announcement of The Yard in Fishers — a $40 million investment to build a dining district at 116th and I-69, next to IKEA, TopGolf, Launch Fishers, and the newly opened Indiana IoT Lab — shares plans for up to 20 restaurants, a culinary incubator, a 255-unit apartment building with shops and a large hotel. To keep up with customer demands, technology will likely play a key role in the success of the endeavor.

Representatives from Comcast Business are familiar with the needs of restaurants through their innovative services provided to restaurants across the world. As the Internet partner for the Indiana IoT Lab, and a provider of services to chefs and restaurants around the world, Comcast worked with Launch Fishers and Indiana IoT Lab founder John Weschler to provide an opportunity to highlight the innovations Comcast can offer to not just tech entrepreneurs, but also those in the food industry.

IoT in the Kitchen: An Evening with Chef Robert Irvine was presented by Comcast Business on September 13, 2018, and brought together about 100 industry professionals for the private, invite-only event. What proceeded for the evening was not a commercial, but a cooking demonstration, comedy show, and informative discussion on the future of food.

LoRaWAN and the future of food innovation

“When there was first talk of building an IoT lab here in Indiana, we were interested and wanted to get on it right away,” says Jeff Marsten, regional vice president of sales for Comcast. “Launch Fishers was a success, and we felt like if you are going to build this lab, we have a lot of innovative tech we can support it with.”

Comcast currently provides a half gig connection for the IoT Lab, which also runs their LoRaWan technology for early product development. “Our partnership with Comcast provides our members access to emerging network technologies and development environments that will power Net Generation IoT solutions for a wide range of industries,” says John Wechsler.

Both John and Jeff specifically refer to LoRaWAN, or low-range wide area network technology. “It’s efficient, very low power, and can run for a long period of time. If you put it at the top of the Comcast Center, the signal could reach 10 to 20 miles,” says Jeff. Comcast has deployed such technology through the launch of their new venture, MachineQ, a service that leverages connected sensor, network and software technologies to enable innovative IoT solutions.

For chefs, this technology in the kitchen can manage ovens and their temperatures and track all of the equipment in the kitchen and how it’s used. An example of this technology can be seen through a product called ComplianceMate, produced by CM Systems. ComplianceMate enables users to continuously monitor and record temperatures inside any cold holding units or other temperature-controlled equipment. The system generates user alerts automatically any time temperatures go out of specification, so users can prevent food waste and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. This product is an example of a technology that could run off of Comcast’s LoRaWAN network.

IoT: Impossible

Those who have watched Chef Robert Irvine’s television shows on Food Network, such as Restaurant: Impossible and Dinner: Impossible, know that the Marine runs a tight kitchen where efficiency is key and precision is the only method for success. As a customer of Comcast’s for many years through his restaurants, Chef Irvine was passionate about his investment in his businesses, and how Comcast was a major reason for his success.

Chef Irvine spent the evening engaging the audience, made up of food enthusiasts, tech entrepreneurs, Comcast employees and media, who did everything from jumping up and down out of their seats to tasting olive oil and even acting out ape-impressions, all in educative ways to tell stories of how we came to know and use the food we eat today.

“This was a great opportunity for Chef Irvine to come and talk about IoT, food and tech, and also just have a great event for the IoT lab, which is a tremendous partner of ours,” says Jeff.

Discover more about how IoT is changing the tech landscape in Indiana.