About tracking pizza's location

(via)Read in Information Week:

"At an 11-store chain of Papa John's restaurants in north Alabama, location data is being pushed directly to customers. Using an online-tracking system developed by startup TrackMyPizza, customers can watch online as their deliveries move street by street toward their doors. Drivers carry GPS-enabled handsets that feed location data to a TrackMyPizza server. There, the data is coupled with the customer's phone number, providing location updates every 15 seconds. (...) Sound like technology overkill, just to know your pizza hasn't gone astray? Rival Domino's thinks consumers want more such information about their orders, and it's doing a national rollout of a Web system that shows buyers when their pizzas have been prepared, cooked, then sent out the door. But it doesn't offer location once the pizza leaves the store. (...) At Papa John's, pizza tracking is delivering business benefits in its first two months by getting more people ordering online--a 100% jump in online ordering since the rollout, says Tom Van Landingham, the franchise operating partner. Online orders save phone-answering time, and Web customers spend about $2 more per order, since they can see the whole menu. About 18% of all delivery customers in the last 60 days have gone on the Web site to track their pizza. Van Landingham expects to begin using the tracking system to improve productivity behind the scenes, by plotting more efficient delivery routes, for instance. The service is only 2 months old, so it still needs to prove it's more than a novelty. But the chain proved it can be done."

Why do I blog this? The perspective of having people at home riveted to their computers, following the movement of their pizza mapped digitally makes me giggle. It looks like a weird version of Pacman where you don't have any control on your little character. Perhaps there is something cultural that I am missing or maybe it's the novelty who made people following their pizza on-line.

So, at first glance, this looks awkward and I am really curious to see if there are some user experience researcher already doing work on this kind of service. Beyond people's motivation to track an artifact that may be in their stomach one hour later, it would be interesting to understand more what are the expectations towards the pizza's location, the sort of happenstance people fear about this or even the reactions they would have if the pizza wandered around instead of taking a straight line to the consumer's house. To some extent, this is a PERFECT tool to conduct psychological experiments!