Will tech innovations change foodservice?
With the integration of touch screen ordering kiosks into big chains like McDonald’s, there has been a lot of speculation about how technology will ultimately reshape fast food — both for the customer and the employee. Two new technological innovations have hit the scene, either of which could mean substantial changes for foodservice if they catch on.
Tech company Miso Robotics recently launched an AI-based robot capable of cooking and flipping a hamburger, according to the Pasadena Star News. The robot, called Flippy, is being tested at a CaliBurger location in Pasadena, CA. It uses heat sensors to determine how well the burger is cooked, flips it and, when it is done, moves it out of the way for a final once-over by a human chef. Miso Robotics intends to use the AI for other — some potentially dangerous —commercial kitchen tasks as well, such as frying chicken and plating vegetables.
Flippy hasn’t done away with the human element at CaliBurger, but the broad threat AI poses to low-level food prep jobs has not gone unnoticed. The White House late last year released a study indicating that the AI revolution could have a devastating impact on employment numbers.
Another startup, BeeHex, has launched a 3-D printer called Chef 3D capable of making pizzas, according to Food Dive. The story speculates that such a device could add an experiential element to food shopping.
Such technology could also fix a problem that grocers, convenience stores and restaurants have faced in attempting to meet a growing demand for freshly-prepared products — an increase in foodborne illness. That is, assuming that 3-D printed food is palatable, passes for “fresh” in the consumer’s mind and does not come with its own unforeseen problems when producing at scale.
- Watch Flippy, this Pasadena tech firm’s new robot, flip some burgers at Caliburger – Pasadena Star News
- Is 3-D printed food the future of the grocerant? – Food Dive
- How can the retail job market survive the AI revolution? – RetailWire
- Will Whole Foods stay fresh using outside suppliers? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will innovations like Flippy and Chef 3D meet the needs of QSRs, grocery stores and department store food courts and lead to fully-automated food prep? How likely are technologies such as these to come into widespread use over the next decade? What hurdles do you see?