Robots Will Transform Fast Food

Visitors to Henn-na, a restaurant outside Nagasaki, Japan, are greeted by a peculiar sight: their food being prepared by a row of humanoid robots that bear a passing resemblance to the Terminator.

The “head chef,” incongruously named Andrew, specializes in okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancake. Using his two long arms, he stirs batter in a metal bowl, then pours it onto a hot grill. While he waits for the batter to cook, he talks cheerily in Japanese about how much he enjoys his job. His robot colleagues, meanwhile, fry donuts, layer soft-serve ice cream into cones, and mix drinks. One made me a gin and tonic.

H.I.S., the company that runs the restaurant, as well as a nearby hotel where robots check guests into their rooms and help with their luggage, turned to automation partly out of necessity. Japan’s population is shrinking, and its economy is booming; the unemployment rate is currently an unprecedented 2.8 percent. “Using robots makes a lot of sense in a country like Japan, where it’s hard to find employees,” CEO Hideo Sawada told me.

Read more at The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/01/iron-chefs/546581/

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‘Alexa, add my favorite yogurt to my list’

As grocery e-commerce gets more personal, Diego Maniloff of Unata says it’s time for retailers to turn their efforts to voice recognition technology.

2017 has been an incredible year for grocery retail. Companies like Amazon and Walmart are relentlessly innovating ways to heighten convenience and strengthen the presence of digital in grocery shopping, and it’s challenging other retailers to do the same. As we enter this new competitive era of grocery shopping, retailers should turn their attention to a technology that has the power to truly revolutionize the way we shop: voice technology.

It is estimated that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be done by voice alone. With consumer adoption already underway, it won’t be long before smart speakers like Amazon Alexa and Google Home become our go-to for search, inspiration and, most importantly, shopping. As consumer habits and expectations shift with the rise of voice technology, so must grocery retail.

However, voice assistants pose an interesting challenge. Unlike smartphones, computers and tablets, they lack a visual interface and for that reason they are unforgiving when it comes to accuracy of results. Gone are the days of shopper patience when sifting through search results. Sitting and listening to a voice assistant list over 20 different varieties of apples will feel drawn out, painful, and to be honest, incredibly frustrating.

Diego Maniloff

For that reason alone, personalization is paramount. To provide a seamless customer experience, grocers need to understand two things. First, there is only one answer. Second, you need to draw on past behaviors and orders to get that one answer right. Consider this: Your shopper realizes she’s out of yogurt, so she asks her voice assistant to add more to her shopping list. Enter your personalization engine. Instead of asking which yogurt your shopper prefers or listing available options, the voice assistant can confirm in one response that her favorite yogurt — which she purchases on a regular basis — has been added to her list.

Read more at Food Dive: https://www.fooddive.com/news/grocery–alexa-add-my-favorite-yogurt-to-my-list/512355/

Diego Maniloff is the vice president of tech innovation at Unata, the leading provider in 1-to-1 digital solutions for grocers. He is a computer scientist from Argentina specialized in the art of personalization technologies. He received his BS/MEng degrees in Telecommunications Engineering from Universidad Blas Pascal in Córdoba, and upon becoming a Fulbright scholar he joined the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. After completion of his MS, Diego became a research fellow at MIT, focusing on applied AI and data analysis. At Unata, Diego led the engineering team for five years, during which he built the award-winning personalization engine from scratch. Today, he oversees research and development of emerging technologies that have the potential to shape the digital grocery industry.Learn more at www.unata.com.

What’s On the Menu? Augmented Reality and 3-D Food Models

At Vino Levantino wine bar in New York City, the desserts are delicious but not always so straightforward.

“We have a few desserts that are not usual … or people (are) not familiar with them,” owner Haim Amit said. “Like we have the kadaif, I mean, not everyone knows what’s kadaif.”

Rather than explain the traditional Middle Eastern dessert to customers, Amit shows them.

Using the Kabaq augmented reality application on an iPad, he demonstrates how virtual, 3-D models of desserts can now be superimposed onto the tabletop in front of customers.

The 3-D models look incredibly realistic, not to mention mouthwatering.

How it works

“Humans are visual creatures,” Kabaq founder Alper Guler said. The tech startup is helping diners decide what to eat, and in the process, giving traditional menus a digital twist.

Guler and his team visit participating restaurants to capture 3-D images of their dishes. Using a portable, tabletop photo booth, they place dishes on a turntable inside.

“What we do is we turn the food every second and stop it, and capture from that angle,” Guler said. Cameras placed at varying heights capture all possible angles and the images are processed back at Kabaq offices to create 3-D models. Kabaq charges $99-$199 per month for their services.

Sales, fun increase

The technology is proving to be good for business.

Amit said that overall sales have increased about 22 percent since the business began using Kabaq in June.

“We’re helping restaurant owners to raise their check averages by selling more desserts,” said Guler, who likened Kabaq to a modern-day dessert cart.

“There’s a lot of really strong applications for visualizing the food and showing the customer what they’re going to get,” said Mike Cadoux, Kabaq’s head of sales and partnerships. “If I was going to get the $17 pasta, but I see the $28 steak and it looks amazing, and I go for the $28 steak, that’s a huge value add to so many restaurants up and down the street.”

But it’s also the opportunity for a unique dining experience that Amit says has customers noticeably excited.

“They don’t expect it and they really like it. They’re surprised that we come with something digital, it’s almost like a toy,” Amit said.

On a recent night, two 20-something customers took an immediate liking to the app.

“It’s like you have the whole plate in front of you, it’s amazing,” one said.

Foodies love the technology

3-D scanning technology, in which objects are captured from all sides, is turning out to be a good fit for foodies.

Artist Romain Rouffet used 3-D scanning to create a 3-D recipe for banoffee piethat users can zoom in and out of and view from all angles. The resulting video is potentially a sign of innovations to come.

“Augmented reality and 3-D viewing and these kinds of medium … are just integral to that next generation of experience,” Cadoux said.

from VOANews.com: https://www.voanews.com/a/augmented-reality-3-d-food-models-on-the-menu/4136235.html

Waitr Delivers “Share Thanksgiving” Food Drive

Waitr, the on-demand restaurant platform, is starting a new Thanksgivingfood drive using its popular app to help feed the needy in the communities they serve. Beginning Monday, October 16, when anyone orders from their favorite restaurant using Waitr, they’ll have the option to help feed a family in their own community with a donation.

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Called “Share Thanksgiving“, the food drive allows Waitr users to click on the designated “Donate a Meal” button after they order. Should they choose to do so, they will then be prompted to select a dollar amount ranging from $2 to $10. Waitr and its participating restaurant partners will also match a portion of their customers’ donations.

Using all of these donations, Waitr will deliver free hot meals prepared by local restaurants to hungry families during Thanksgiving week.

“While Thanksgiving is typically a time to reflect on how fortunate we are, there are also many people who unfortunately need help putting food on their tables,” said Chris Meaux, CEO and Founder of Waitr. “We’re so grateful for our customers and restaurant partners, whose combined efforts will assist us in making this Thanksgiving a day of hope for those in need.”

Share Thanksgiving will be a major undertaking across the entire Southeast, as Waitr has more than 2,500 restaurant partners and a presence in more than 100 cities.

Get the app here:  https://waitrapp.com

Read more at PR NewsWire: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/waitr-delivers-share-thanksgiving-food-drive-300537196.html

How Diageo is planning for voice-based search

Despite early bets on Amazon’s Alexa, Diageo doesn’t have a voice strategy. The alcohol maker is, however, shifting some of its focus to conversational, long-tail search terms.

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Diageo is laying the groundwork for when a large part of its search buying is for voice rather than text, or rather based on the meaning behind a query instead of a specific keyword. Much of Diageo’s early voice search efforts involve brainstorming what naturally spoken questions may be asked about its brands, especially because there’s a chance that cost per click could rise if there is only room for one paid search placement.

Bidding strategies aside, Diageo is also considering the feasibility of producing variations of ad copy that deliver the best possible answers. If someone asked for a Moscow mule, for example, not only would Smirnoff need to have copy in place to answer the query, it might also need copy ready if the next question were “What vodka should I buy?” or “What ingredients are in it?”

Read more at Digiday: https://digiday.com/marketing/diageo-planning-voice-based-search/