In this special edition of its 5 Things series, Food Management highlights five recent technology-related developments affecting the foodservice world.
Here’s your list for today:
- Sodexo Live! Accelerator program chooses four emerging tech startups to nurture
Sodexo Live! has selected four startups to join the first North American cohort of its Accelerator program: VisioLab, a frictionless self-checkout solution for hospitality and retail locations; gigl, a next-gen job app that lets candidates apply to companies with a 60-second video in line with the consumption patterns of Gen-Z in a post-COVID environment; Nina Labs, which offers a premium self-service experience with IoT pourers on spirits bottles that digitize and track every drop, allowing for real-time tracking of stock and inventory; and Thermal Smart, an aerogel manufacturer which provides insulation solutions to help companies improve cold chain logistics performance, save operational costs and reduce CO2 emissions. In the upcoming year, the selected entrepreneurs will work one-on-one as part of an innovation lab with dedicated advisors as part of the program’s focus on the revision of go-to-market strategies, user experience, fundraising, sales, marketing and branding, product design and working at enterprise scale.
- Mobile order app for healthcare workers launches on App Store and Google Play
Houston-based tech firm Rivalry Tech has released the myEATz mobile ordering application in the App Store and Google Play. It created the myEATz platform for facilities with 24/7/365 dining needs with the initial focus on healthcare, where workers can download the application, order ahead, and skip the line at their campus dining options, giving them the opportunity to utilize their break time to the fullest. In addition, myEATz gives facilities another perk to enhance employee wellness efforts through their perks programs, the company says.
- Sushi chain embraces tech innovation to grow
One of the reasons Kura Sushi has found such traction (6.9% comp sales growth driven in part by 4% traffic growth in Q1) is because it’s a highly differentiated concept—a tech-enabled sushi bar that presents a seemingly endless flow of meal options via conveyor belt. Kura’s technology and digital efforts are extending well beyond its conveyor belt, too. The chain is currently automating some back-office tasks that are still done manually, for instance, and plans to add an automated dishwashing system in the coming months. It has also recently introduced robot services, touch panel drink orders and tableside payments. Those additions have increased efficiencies and generated higher guest satisfaction scores, executives noted.
- Chili’s looks to tech to create the perfect three-minute steak
A few months after becoming CEO of parent company Brinker International last year, Kevin Hochman has paused all robotics testing at Chili's, including the use of robot food runners, a pilot drone delivery program, and a yet-to-be-launched meal delivery test using autonomous robots to instead invest in kitchen automation that cooks food faster and more consistently. One of the most intriguing innovations: a high-tech grill that cooks and sears a medium steak to perfection in three minutes—or three times faster, which alone is likely to save the company millions of dollars from having to comp steaks sent back by unhappy customers. The grills and high-tech ovens, currently being tested at 53 restaurants, are part of the chain's Kitchen of the Future program, designed to reduce cook times for popular dishes like burgers, quesadillas, steaks, pizzas, and ribs.
- Students design flavor-enhancing cutlery
Foods high in sugar and salt can be unhealthy, but these additives are too delicious for many of us to give up or reduce in a big way. What if we could somehow enjoy their taste without actually eating them? A student team has now designed a spoon with a structure that stimulates taste buds to produce a sensation of sweetness—without adding calories or chemicals. The project follows previous work involving flavor-enhancing cutlery, such as chopsticks that amplify saltiness with a mild electric current.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]