Face Tracking, Robot Baristas, and Reverse Rewards

by Anna Gilligan & Kaitlyn Hieb

Something we can all rally around is our love for food. It looks like we’re putting our money where our mouth is by spending a lot of it at restaurants. In fact, the restaurant industry sees $799 billion in annual sales (yes, billion). As convenience-driven consumers, we demand frictionless experiences, and restaurants have responded with online food ordering which allows us to grab a bite to eat or plan ahead for dinner without dealing with long lines or, well, people. The restaurant industry has to embrace online ordering and, more specifically, online delivery to maintain relevancy and meet customer expectations.

Third-party delivery services, such as GrubHub and Uber Eats, have facilitated a landscape that is forcing restaurants to change the way they do business. Examples include making room for delivery by creating a separate entrance for online orders, and the development of delivery-only menus. Domino’s and Panera Bread are just two of many chains that are embracing the change.

Of course, there are risks involved with online delivery. As a restaurant, you want to guide customers through the entire journey, and quality is at stake when customers order through a third party. However, with delivery expected to gross $75.9B in restaurant sales by 2022, it’s time for the industry to take a hint and adapt to the disruption.

Tech & Trends

Virtual Reality
Museums Embrace TechWhile the Smithsonian is known for its display of history, the museum is also embracing current technology by infusing art with VR. Using Linden Lab’s social VR platform, visitors and folks at home can virtually interact with the installations and ephemera of their No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man exhibit.

Face TrackingReminiscent of a popular Netflix show, Black Mirror, a new open source tool, Social Mapper, tracks people across social media using facial recognition. Using a name and photo, it has the ability to locate user profiles across platforms. This technology has implications for those of us who manage public and private accounts. Are old Myspace accounts fair game?….Be right back!

 Artificial Intelligence 
Overlooked ScientistsIn today’s society, you haven’t made it until you have a Wikipedia entry written about you. Somehow 82% of Wikipedia biographies are about men. By putting AI to good use, Primer researchers have identified 40,000 omitted scientists from the world’s most popular encyclopedia, many of whom are women.

Automated CRMAdobe is researching an AI-powered tool that, “predicts the best time to send a marketing email to an individual.” As part of their research they conducted a survey regarding email attitudes, and here are some of their findings:

  • “Email continues to lead as the most regularly used form of communication at work, followed by in-person communication, the phone, and instant messaging.”
  • “The most annoying phrases people hear in emails are: ‘Not sure if you saw my last email’ and ‘Per my last email.'”

“Sending too many emails remains the most annoying thing marketers can do, according to respondents.”

In The News

I Am(azon) The Captain Now: Amazon has been disrupting the logistics industry ever since the 2013 bluff where traditional carriers were unable to fulfill its delivery promises to customers. Its Amazon Flex program is basically the Uber of shipping and delivery, as small businesses are being funded to run independent logistics companies.

Hasta Barista, Baby: Good news, you may never have to suffer through a mind-numbingly bad misspelling of your name from a Starbucks barista again! Cafe X is a robotic coffee bar in San Francisco capable of automatically making your beverage and delivering it straight to you. Word on the street is their fastest robot can whip up three drinks in 40 seconds.

Reverse Rewards: The Couch Potato app, which rewards users for doing nothing, debuted this month as part of a marketing stunt from Burrow, a US-based couch brand. Posed as an alternative to popular fitness trackers, this ‘sit tracker’ monitors users’ motion; level one (under?) achievers are dubbed “Tater Tots”, for instance, while those at the highest level (nine) are “PoGREATo.” Couch Potato users can also track their lack of activity over time.

Financial Services & Insurance
Another Day, Another Amazon Service: Amazon is working with insurers in the UK to offer an insurance comparison website. According to analyst RJ Hottovy, “As Amazon becomes a larger part of the home, whether it’s products delivered to the home, security monitoring, home services like Wi-Fi installation, you can make the case that insurance is the next logical step for this company.” It will be interesting to see how this plays out considering Google tried a similar move that failed.

Amazon Go Competitor: Zippin is the latest AI driven convenience store, but don’t be so quick to call them an Amazon Go copycat. Entrepreneur Krishna Motukuri and his partner Motilal Agrawal first conceptualized an automated store back in 2014. They launched their first cashier-free demo earlier this month in San Francisco – the first of its kind in the city.

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After 22 years of releasing newly-designed holiday cups each year, the brand decided to add a new element in 2019 by creating an AR feature on Instagram Stories for the cups (think Snapchat filters). If a user has one of Starbucks’ holiday cups, the AR effect will detect the cup and create a neat animated effect around it unique to each design.