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AN OPTIMAL FOOD DIARY SYSTEM

PREVIEW OF PROPOSAL

Foodcounts was conceived  in 1999 years ago by a small group of contract system designers. The internet domain was purchased in February 2000. The trademark and software specification was registered with the UK Patent Office in November 2000.

Foodcounts will be a multi-level food information service and represents a brand new concept in home food management, providing a complete range of food-chain information together with on-line ordering to the main food-sellers, and in a format accessible to all. We are applying state-of-the-art neural network technology both in terms of database design and voice connection interfacings

We have conducted considerable product and market research both nationally and globally are are satisfied our applications are unique.

Our project reflected and reflects the objectives of the Foresight Directorate
http://www.bis.gov.uk/foresight/our-work/projects/current-projects/global-food-and-farming-futures

This proposal was presented in the sequence and format as required by the Smart Feasibility Award scheme
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_(grant_scheme) (grant scheme)

by Mike Allott
for Consensus Software Ltd  (now Corporata Ltd)

March 2002


THE OPTIMAL FOOD DIARY SYSTEM: REPORT CONTENTS

1. THE PROJECT
2. THE OBJECTIVES
3. A TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION
4. THE LEVEL OF INNOVATION
5. COMMERCIAL EXPLOITATION
6. BUSINESS BACKGROUND AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT


FOOD DIARY SYSTEM: THE PROJECT

OVERVIEW

Foodcounts will be an internet-based food ordering and food information service

We address 2 major problems.[1]the current complexity and confusion associated with ordering food on-line, and [2] the lack of clear, easy-to-understand food-chain information from either government or product label sources. This is inhibiting and discriminatory, both in terms of market growth and of open access. The overriding difficulty is the absence of any agreed standard on food and food-seller taxonomies.

Our first approach, therefore, will be to identify, categorise, classify, and list:

  • all sellers of food
  • all items of food

And then go on to design a neural network architecture that will:

  • develop unique rapid access database hierarchies
  • incorporate a unique domestic barcode enquiry system
  • create a voice interrogation option
  • expand and explode nutrition and health info for all foods
  • codify cooking, storage and freezing instructions for automated use

ADVANTAGES OF THE FOODCOUNTS FOOD DIARY SYSTEM

  • consumers have greater choice on the method of home food delivery
  • consumers have improved information access on food issues
  • consumers with disabilities have equal access
  • on-line food-sellers can offer added value by offering open access
  • smaller food-sellers can compete on providing home food delivery
  • appliance manufacturers are waiting for our database technology

AIMS OF FOODCOUNTS

  • to contribute to an improved understanding of the food chain
  • to make food information technology accessible to all
  • to be an integral part of the information chain that impacts on consumer choice
  • to develop a system prototype that focuses on the selected market segment of convenience  meals.

 


FOOD DIARY SYSTEM: THE OBJECTIVES

LONGTERM

Our long-term for all sellers. Individual information profiles will be produced fo each product and for each seller. Without these profiles the system software cannot be implemented. The logistics on this are explained in the next sections: Technical Description and Level of Innovation.

IMMEDIATE

Our short-term objective is to produce a system prototype based on a small segment. We have selected  the food category of convenience meals  plus 1000 prime foods. The seller database will be Tesco+Asda+Sainsburys+5 small/medium sellers. Because of the nature of the market, this prototype product will be commercially viable on a stand alone basis

To produce our prototype the Key Tasks will be:-

KEY TASK [OBJECTIVE]

  STANDARD OF PERFORMANCE 

by:
Finalise product profile design Approval by team Month 1
Finalise seller profile design Approval by team Month 1
Finalise consumer profile design Approval by team Month 1
Construct core product profile database Input speeds/response times and hyperlink times to be specified as targets.

 

Also approval by outside consultants

Month 2
Construct and Integrate: Month 2
                 ingredient database Month 2
                 US nutrient database    Month 3
                 e-number database              Month 2
                 functional-food database Month 2
                 seller profile database Month 2

                 consumer profile database

Month 3
Write up programme code+algorith See separate specification Month 4
Input 2000 package food items to database Cost per item-input and time per item-input to be set Month 5
Input 1000 prime foods/ingredients Month 5
Input 1000 e-numbers/additives Month 5
Input  100 functional food Month 5
Presentations to 5 national sellers Selling objectives to be set for each individual presentation Month 5
Presentations to 3 disability groups Month 3
Presentations to 3 appliance manufacturers Month 3
Presentations to 3 national manufacturers Month 3
Presentations to 3 scanner manufacturers Month 3
Produce market report Quantify market demand Month 4
Run test of prototype Specify 3 month sales target Month 6
Produce Product Development Report Project  future revenues Month 9

The time table on these key tasks is shown in more detail on page 6

FOOD DIARY SYSTEM: TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION

First, our database is to be constructed as follows:

food-seller ID  +  group ID  +  seller type ID  +  location ID

food-item ID   +  department ID  +  aisle ID  +  section ID   +  shelf ID  +  food-set ID

brand ID  +  weight ID

food item narrative description

packaging code ID   +   cooking codes ID   +   freezing codes ID   +   storage codes ID

nutrition codes ID

ingredients ID   +   minerals ID   +   vitamins ID   +   lipids ID   +   amino acids ID

functional foods ID

e-numbers ID  +   risk-food  ID

consumer ID  +  location ID  +  kitchen appliances ID   +  health needs ID    +   disability ID

The full profiles for food-seller, food-item and consumer are shown under appendix A
 

For the purposes of the pilot, the input of profile data will be manual, and this may also be the long-term option. However, during the period of the pilot project we will attempt to persuade product manufacturers and food sellers to provide food-item data through bulk transmission, and our system will be designed to allow for this [code x will be implanted]

By markedly expanding the food-item class system, as we have, we will simplify, amplify, and speed up the product search process. And with the use of algorithm [y] linked to our concept of core-identity [see appendix B] we have created a unified system solution. The technical work on this is now complete. Web and barcode scanning interface is also now in place.

We need to develop interface capability with mobile and palm [we propose to use code Z]

We also need to develop voice interrogation and voice response [we prose to use code X1]

The operation of a pilot will determine to what extent food-sellers, food-manufacturers, appliance manufacturers and consumer groups support the project. This in turn will determine the level of future market segmentation, from which will follow more targeted technical priorities.

However at the current prototype specification we have the appropriate expertise to progress the project.

FOOD DIARY SYSTEM: LEVEL OF INNOVATION

“Our vision is that in the future, all stakeholders in a transparent food chain will trust and be confident in the information they receive and will be able to access it in the form they need.”  -  Food Chain and Crops for Industry report [Foresight]

This vision goes to the heart of the Foodcounts concept.  We also offer these innovations:-

New standards on food labelling

We provide a broad-based coded taxonomy covering all aspects of the supply side of the food chain, requiring no changes on the part of food suppliers, but which provides an opportunity to record and present  information in a standard and accessible format.

New bands of health and nutrition information

We link information provided by food manufacturers to a much widened base of health and nutrition data, with the further option of selection-choice  based on any of these health/lifestyle parameters.

New pathway for intelligent kitchens

We code all instructions on cooking and freezing in a standard format, and in an appropriate computer language, to provide  the first ever practical application for the automated cooking and storage of packaged foods.

Scanning food in the home

We include the option of barcode scanning to simplify and speed up access to information

New voice recognition system

We introduce state of the art voice recognition technology, offering an open 2 way connection to the Foodcounts database and the range of information services. The accessibility and the simplicity of voice recognition will have a significant impact.

National database of food items

We  have the capability to create a unique national database of all food items, based on product bar codes for packaged food items and our own coded list of base-food items. This would be linked to a new method of search and retrieval, offering total consumer choice in on-line food purchase. We have already developed an intelligent system to harmonize product data and food-seller data. This will allow us to offer a full on-line ordering service either as a relay to existing on-line suppliers or to other sellers who do not have the technology in place.

5. FOOD DIARY SYSTEM: COMMERCIAL EXPLOITATION

Our short-term aim is to develop Foodcounts as a system prototype around the narrower market of convenience foods.

The core of this market is: [based on the numbers of products]

Food-seller Own-brand Heinz Birds eye

 

Other brands
Tesco        
Sainsbury        
Marks&Spencer        
Asda        
Safeway        
Waitrose        
Other        

The estimated total value of sales is £0.5 billion per annum of which 5% is currently bought on-line. So in essence we have 2 separate markets. First, based on sales volume, where we would be creating our own share in respect to home delivery. Second, based on listed product items, for which we would be creating a new market in providing product information.  

Our target customers would be

Market Segment

 

Product Segment

Revenue Stream

 

Food-sellers on-line Diverted ordering+info links Commissions+premiums
Food-sellers on-line Info links only Premiums
Food-sellers Full ordering+info Fees+commissions+premiums
Food-manufacturers Info links Premiums
Appliance-manufacturers Cooking and freezing codes Development fees
Consumers-health lifestyle Full ordering and/or info Subscription+appliance sales
Consumers-technophobes Full ordering and/or info Subscription+appliance sales
Consumers-disabilities Full ordering and/or info Subscription+appliance sales

We will enter the seller and manufacture market by direct sales approach supported by web, powerpoint and brochure presentation. We will connect to the consumer market by approaching those organisations who promote health issues and support disability needs. When the Foodcounts prototype is launched we will focus on an internet email campaign supported by selected press advertising to identify the Foodcounts internet domain.  

Competiton

At present there is no organisation providing the Foodcounts ordering and information service. Those sellers who are providing an on-line service have all developed identical systems which are slow to access and provide limited product information. Also there is no current provision on the part of food-sellers or food manufacturers, both here and in Europe, to make packaging information fully accessible to either disabled consumers or to the intelligent kitchen technologies. There is a strong possibility that future disability discrimination legislation will give us a significant market advantage in this regard.

FOOD DIARY SYSTEM: OUR BUSINESS BACKGROUND

The intellectual property of Foodcounts belongs to Consensus Software Ltd.The company was set up 10 years ago by Dr Nicholas Allott, primarily as a vehicle for contracting out his system building skills.

Dr Allott’s PhD thesis was in the highly specialist field of neural networks and he has developed particular expertise in data-mining and voice recognition. These are the 2 main areas of innovation on which Foodcounts depends.

Consensus Software has also driven a number of non-commercial web-based development projects under the direction of his father, Michael Allott, who will be acting as the Foodcounts Project Manager. He has a particular direct experience in developing and managing a retailer- consumer connected database through his long association with Barclaycard. Indeed there are a number of important parallels between a national bankcard database system and the proposed Foodcounts project.

Jonathan Allott has worked on several internet development contracts where data mining has been used.

Anita Viney has an accountancy background and currently works part-time as a Research Analyst.

Stuart Vincent has been a management consultant for over 20 years advising SMB’s. he has specialist expertise in method study.

The main people who will be involved are summarised as follows:-
KEY PERSONNEL MAIN DUTIES COMPANY EXPERIENCE
Nicholas Allott PhD[director] Software Architect Motorola, Shell, DK
Michael Allott Dip. MRS Project Manager, Marketing Barclays bank

CV’s are attached under appendix C

Extra staff resources will be drawn in to assist with the compilation of the prototype database. Agency staff with basic input skills will be used. Should we require back-up on programming, contract staff have been identified and will be available. We have fully equipped office facilities with on-line terminals for a minimum of 5 work-stations

We have private capital in place to support part funding of the project, either in the form of lending or as injected capital with share dilution.

The project delivery costs, over 9 months, will be £100,000 [to be proportioned as 100%]The main costs are associated with system design and coding. Without external funding to support the project the main principals would have to continue seeking guaranteed income through contract work, and therefore the proposed project would not proceed.

end