• Jillian Stern

Robotics and the Future of Food

Unlimited capabilities. Endless possibilities.


What are the first things you think about when asked about a futuristic movie you watched as a kid? Watches you can talk into? Robots? Flying cars?


Did you ever imagine that all but the latter would exist in your lifetime? I most certainly did not!


It’s evident that technology is advancing at an exponential rate. If a business wishes to succeed and attain customer loyalty in today’s environment, it is necessary to take the advancements into consideration. In the foodservice and hospitality industry, these advancements include robotic restaurants, high-tech vending solutions and more.


The future is now, and it is easy to get lost amongst all the recent inventions within this industry. Although there is much to learn and consider, hopefully this blog post will deliver some insight and guidance highlighting the importance incorporating food technology into your business, in any capacity!


Just Baked

Take Just Baked for example. This robot vending kiosk possesses an innovative outlook on the oven. The company prides itself on convenience, quality, and consistency. Just Baked provides a wide range of hot and fresh options. From pretzels, pizza, and burgers to cinnamon buns, egg sandwiches and donuts, this machine is sure to satisfy anyone’s cravings. With touchless ordering capability, there is no denying the need for devices like this one in a multitude of locations.




Reis & Irvy’s

If you’re not looking for a hot meal to please your employees and/or guests, I think Reis & Irvy's is a great, refreshing dessert option! This robotic kiosk offers a sweet treat that combats the rapid spread of germs that occurs in self-serve yogurt shops. If you're worried about sharing a touch pad, there is no reason! They are developing an app that allows you to place your order, completely contact free!


Have you ever seen self-serve frozen yogurt in a hospital? It’s most likely less common due to the abundance of germs present. Thanks to food technology, you can enjoy frozen treats in the most unlikely of places! Ice cream is the universal token to making people feel better and now, you can achieve that without it melting on the way. The company’s purpose is to help businesses win the hearts and minds of customers, and with Reis & Irvy’s, that goal seems deliciously in reach!

The ING economic report for 2019 suggests that food technology possesses benefits for three major factors: the business, the consumer, and society at large. In terms of business, technology provides a route to achieving more accurate information and cost savings. For the consumers, it produces affordability and extensive information about the products origin as well as production and certifications. We only have one planet. The implementation of technology into the food industry can help combat issues like food waste. It also aides society in tackling issues like working conditions, food safety, and traceability.


In my opinion, a perfect example of food technology impacting the morale and working conditions of employees is Spyce. This restaurant was recently born into the food industry with its two locations in Boston, MA. It entered the world calling all attention to its brilliance. Spyce utilizes the idea of robots in their own unique way: The Infinite Kitchen. This is a systematic kitchen designed for each individual customer to have their own personalized meal fast, and with a perfect taste.


Steel, steamers, speed, and smiles.

Spyce uses 450’ seasoned carbon steel to sear proteins and 300’ steam (100’ hotter than your average steam) to execute perfection in the noodle and grain world. Both the accuracy and the exactness in the technology guarantees precise timing on orders, delivered from machine to mouth in minutes.


This in turn creates the inevitable smile from satisfied customers, bound to come back again. This innovative idea created smiles for employees as well.


According to The Spyce Team, it provides an outlet for the workers to take part in, "fewer monotonous tasks, and instead focus on more engaging, fulfilling roles in our restaurants—creating a better employee and customer experience."

The employees can prepare the food fresh, for the machine to then deliver each individual meal. The machine taking care of cooking through completion, allows the employees to interact with the customers, ensuring a positive rapport.

Robot vending kiosks and other food technology add a unique aspect to micromarkets, providing fast and delicious options, and reducing the amount of time both obtaining and waiting for food. People are moving towards this type of vending as it also eases service and reduces labor costs. Businesses are saving money on labor, while providing food in locations where it may be difficult to install full kitchens, or even a café space.


Recently, the team at elite|studio e designed the micromarket above for Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, NC. Keeping sanitation and the location in mind throughout the process, the concept is seemingly futuristic featuring Just Baked, Sally the Robot and Reis & Irvy’s.


High-tech vending machines also allow for a wide variety of options in a smaller space. In smaller campuses, it’s optimal to have 3 by 3 units that contain a large quantity of choices like custom pizzas, ramen bowls, salads, and even smoothies or barista beverages. Having these kiosks is more versatile, as well as time and space efficient. When you think about it, these are even ideal for locations like airports! Imagine not eating on a flight and landing when most of the airport is closed. It seems as if these machines are the answer! They occupy less square footage and reduce the time spent in markets or traveling, also helping those who do not have the luxury of time for a meal break. Think a traditional salad bar verses Sally (see below).


In addition to their other positive attributes, these robotic vendors appeal to more than one generation. More specifically, millennials and gen z both enjoy high-tech, fast, ‘at their fingertips’ options. Furthermore, the customizability of the menu offering is another bonus, providing the opportunity for each consumer to select individualized ingredients.


And speaking of high tech, it is no secret that big name companies, especially in the Silicon Valley, turn to machines like this, or as Amanda Tsung, Chief Operating Officer of Yo-Kai Express calls them, “restaurants in a box”.


The reason is to both please current employees and draw in new ones! Think amenities as attractions, or magnet amenities.


Unlimited capabilities. Endless possibilities. Food technology promotes higher satisfaction, and overall efficiency in the workplace.


We’d love to hear your ideas! What are your thoughts on technology in the food industry?

Jillian Stern is a senior at The University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she is a Psychology and Spanish double major, pursuing an Isenberg Business Minor. This summer she is interning in elite|studio e's Marketing Department.


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