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Indiana Pacers use AI to help you get hot dogs faster

The basketball team's tech partnership points you to the shortest concession lines.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
October 10, 2016
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Dan Hamilton-USA Today Sports

Among the hassles you deal with at sports events, waiting in line is one of the most annoying. What if you miss the start of play because you had to satisfy a hot dog craving? The Indiana Pacers want to alleviate that headache. They're partnering with tech startup WaitTime to shorten waits through artificial intelligence. The newly-launched system takes photos of arena lines at a rate of 10 times per second, and interprets that data to gauge not just queuing times, but also order completion times and the number of people who've given up. The Pacers display the wait times on screens and a mobile app to show you where wait times are short -- you'll know that a given washroom is empty, or whether it'd be quicker to grab nachos instead of a burger.

WaitTime's AI tech is expensive between its $150,000 install fee and a recurring $9,000 per month cost. However, it could pay for itself over time -- and we're not just referring to the occasional on-screen ad. In addition to pointing you to the shortest lines, the data helps the arena make decisions that can refine its facilities over time. Staff will know which stands need more workers, and can send food carts to longer lines to shoulder some of the demand. The hope is that you won't just order more food, but will like the experience enough to attend games more often -- and that's good news for both the Pacers and their fans.

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