July 15th, 2018
By Jeff Adair

Food and refreshment service operators need to pay attention to the many areas in which technology is creating new ways to operate their businesses and deliver their services. Three years ago, the International Food & Beverage Technology Association ( IFBTA) was formed to provide a forum to allow food industry operators, suppliers, educators and consultants to discuss

Robert Grimes, the organization’s president and CEO, summarized the different ways technology is changing food and refreshment services at the recent National Automatic Merchandising Association ( NAMA ) show in Las Vegas. Grimes gave suggestions on how operators can stay up to date on technologies.

The three areas in which technology is impacting food and refreshment services are hardware, software and services, Grimes said. These areas include equipment, data management, supply chain, company infrastructure, security and sustainability.

Grimes cited Chowbotics Inc ., a manufacturer of a robotic machine that can create and serve more than 1,000 types of salads, as an example of a new technology that makes fresh food preparation more efficient. 

OptConnect , a major vending connectivity provider, has announced a partnership with Systech Corporation, a provider of Internet-of Things (IoT) hardware and software.

The partnership combines OptConnect’s expertise in fully managed wireless solutions with Systech’s expertise in the manufacturing of wireless routers and cellular gateways.

The agreement creates a program for Systech to extend fully managed wireless connectivity to their current hardware-only customers. Systech’s hardware solutions have been incorporated into OptConnect’s fully managed solution since 2009.

“This official partnership will allow for greater integration between our companies,” said Chris Baird, president of OptConnect. “We are excited to work more closely together while also providing a managed wireless solution for existing Systech customers.”

The HVC-P2 from Omron Electronic Components LLC features an image-sensing camera for recognizing human face expression, gender, age, gaze and blink.

The technology makes it possible for a vending machine to detect a human body four times per second, monitoring a person within its detection area. The image sensing technology was developed using data from more than one million faces.

The technology achieves 10 types of image-sensing functions that can recognize human conditions in various perspectives: 1) face detection, 2) human body detection, 3) hand detection 4) face direction estimation, 5) gaze estimation, 6) blink estimation, 7) age estimation, 8) gender estimation, 9) expression estimation, (including five facial expressions - neutral, happiness, surprise, anger and sadness) and 10) face recognition.

The Venders , a provider of automated retailing systems, introduces The Cube, featuring a patented system with a modular design, allowing units to be configured to meet specific space requirements.

The patented conveyor/elevator system allows units to be stacked vertically or horizontally around a small, central control box, allowing the unit to accommodate a range of product sizes and shapes. The system offers vending drop sensors, cashless payment options and a back end reporting module.

Each unit is 24 square inches and can be expanded with “cube towers” in a variety of configurations to hold a variety of products.

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