PiePal May Revolutionize Your Late Night Pizza Order

By Joelle Renstrom | 8 years ago

PiePalIn Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, pizza delivery folks (along with drug manufacturers and computer geniuses) have a rare position of esteem. That’s because their job is important—they even go to school to learn the ins and outs of timely pizza delivery. Every pie gets to the person who ordered it within 30 minutes—it’s the guarantee on which the entire industry revolves. I can totally imagine PiePal being implemented in that world, and it’s not hard to imagine it in ours, either, given how high pizza lands on the hierarchy of human needs.

PiePal, made by iStrategyLabs, a Washington DC-based digital agency that has built a reputation by crafting what they call social machines, or devices that work with Foursquare, Twitter, and other social media to prompt real-world, real-time actions. Much like in Snow Crash, they demonstrate the tangible relationship between what happens online and what occurs in our actual world. But with PiePal, they’ve simplified the system. There’s no social media necessary—all you do is push a button and wait for a pizza to arrive.

It’s true that pizza is one of my most frequent late-night desires. Most of the time, folks ordering pizza in the wee hours are in no shape to speak to another human being over the phone, so the idea of simply pressing a button and waiting is ingenious. One flaw of the PiePal system, in my opinion, is that users are limited to Domino’s. I have some nostalgia for the Noid, but generally am not a fan of the franchise’s pie, or of their politics. However, I do admit that they’ve improved a lot since Thomas Monaghan sold the company, and will further admit that this probably won’t matter one whit to someone craving pizza.

PiePal runs on Raspberry Pi and an Arduino circuit board. It uses JavaScript and Node.js to link to Domino’s online ordering system where users can program their usual or “emergency” order and use pre-entered account information. The founders insist that the system is the only reason they chose Domino’s.

While they’ve only got the prototype, there’s a place to volunteer to be a Beta Taster on their website. This would be a great party device, although I envision rambunctious guests pressing the button over and over. iStrategyLabs admits that there’s some potential for accidental (or purposely mischievous) ordering with the device—hell, my cat could order a pizza with this this—so the next version of the device will be inside of a case that you’ll need a key to open. Still, maybe they ought to make another button that users can push when they’re in danger of overusing the pizza button.