Categories
Hit-Or-Miss Kitchen Gadgets Sustainability Technology

This New Cooler Is Powered By The Sun, So Forget About Those Soggy Ice Bags

Summer is finally on its way, which means you probably have a few beach days or barbecues in the works. (Hooray, warm weather!) Before you pack your old cooler with soggy bags of ice, check out the GoSun Chill. It’s a solar-powered cooler that doesn’t require any ice at all (seriously), which means you can pack your frozen goods without squeezing them into piles of melting cubes. Yup, that means you can kiss the days of wet food and overflowing coolers goodbye.

The GoSun Chill was announced on May 7 by GoSun, the company behind those solar cookers you know and love. Similar to GoSun’s ovens and grills, the Chill can be powered by the sun. Yes, that means you won’t have to stop at the grocery store for three bags of ice on your way to the beach. Instead, you can charge up your GoSun Chill cooler using solar energy.

Thankfully, charging the GoSun Chill is really easy. TBH, there are a few ways you can do it — but I’ll start with the solar option. (That’s the point, isn’t it?) According to GoSun, the cooler’s Lithium Powerbank (which powers the device) can be charged with a solar table or a solar panel. Thankfully, both devices come with the purchase of a GoSun Chill, which means you can pick whichever one is more convenient for you.

Once your Powerbank is charged, it’ll run your cooler for up to 14 hours in 80-degree weather. So, yes, it’s safe to say that your beers will stay cold (even during those long, steamy beach days).

Courtesy of GoSun

The Lithium Powerbank can also be charged with an AC Adapter (aka a wall outlet), which leads me to my next point. If you’d rather bypass the whole “solar” part, you can use an AC Adapter or 12 Volt Cord to plug your cooler directly into your outlet or car. That way, you won’t need a charged Powerbank to run your mini fridge.

Even so, using the Lithium Powerbank sounds like a pretty convenient option. In addition to powering your GoSun Chill, the Powerbank can be used to charge cell phones and laptops (thanks to its convenient USB ports). Therefore, if you need a quick charge during your camping trip, go ahead and use the Lithium Powerbank after cooling down your Chill.

Courtesy of GoSun

If you want to give the GoSun Chill a try, you can order one for $479 on Indiegogo. However they probably won’t be shipped until August 2019 — so plan your summer beach days accordingly.

Categories
Design Grocery Hacks Kitchen Gadgets News Products Technology What's New

New Smart Tupperware Alerts You When Food Has Gone Bad

Photo: Smarterware

Life sometimes feels like an endless loop of grocery shopping, stocking up the fridge with the best intentions, but still feeling like there’s nothing to eat. I see the food, I recognize the food, and yet it sits there daunting and questionable. When did I buy that? Is it even good? You take a whiff, but doubt how much you can trust your nose. Plus, depending how organized you keep your fridge, food is hidden behind other food and some of it is in jars or Tupperware you’re afraid to open and quite frankly, it’s all a little bit terrifying.

It always seemed like one of those problems with no real answer. In our modern day we’re beginning to have smart-everything and now here comes the next thing we didn’t know we needed — Smarterware!

Smarterware works using a system of “SmartTags” that can be linked to Alexa. The idea is that you get back from the grocery store and grab your smart tag, say “Alexa this is a bell pepper” and it will light up green. The smart tag changes from green to yellow to red as the days pass pulling the data on the life span of food from their database (which they are updating regularly). When the food is reaching its final days you’ll receive a notification on your phone along with recipe recommendations using what you have in your fridge. No more helplessly wondering what to do with what you got, Smarterware will help you out.

For those who don’t have access to Alexa, fear not, using these does not require its assistance, as you have the option to input what food you have right through the app. Also, as their database grows, they’re not going to have everything just yet, but you can easily add any obscure food item and its lifespan.

If you’re clueless like me it will default to three days. Not only that, but you can customize your preference for food freshness in case you think certain foods just shouldn’t last that long.

By the way, this isn’t just for grocery fresh food, SmartTags are designed to stick on your Chinese takeout box, too. Ovie’s goal is to utilize what you have in a smarter way to prevent food waste in the home and eventually make a difference on a larger scale. Co-founder and head of brand for Ovie, Stacie Thompson, stated that, “Most Americans don’t know what they’re having for dinner at 4pm, but we think dinner is already in your fridge. So we want to help you find it!”

Smarterware is designed to accommodate everything in your fridge. The SmartTags can be used in a clip, on a Smarterware container, or with a small connecter that can stick to anything. There are kits available for pre-order online at ovie.life ranging from $130-$300 depending how many you need with an option to build your own kit if you’d like. Pre-orders are expected to ship in March this year. 

Categories
Health Opinion

The Rise In Food Safety Recalls Actually Means Our Food Is Getting Safer

2018 has definitely been a whirlwind year in the world of food safety news, as it appears that new food poisoning outbreaks have been making headlines almost every other week. It’s caused some concern that perhaps outbreaks are increasing, which could mean that our food supply is less safe.

That’s likely not the case, though, as the actual amount of outbreaks doesn’t seem to be changing. The FDA is just getting a lot better at catching them.

Since President Barack Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011, the FDA has mobilized into more of a proactive body that’s been trying to snuff out food poisonings as early as they can. That has led to an increase in technology at the disposal of the food agency, and they’ve been using it to better identify potential nationwide outbreaks.

This technology, better known as whole genome sequencing (WGS), lets FDA and CDC officials identify outbreaks as they are starting to happen on a national scale. WGS keeps tabs on the DNA of specific species and subspecies of bacteria. As people get sick, samples are collected to identify these pathogens, which are then uploaded to the WGS database. Monitors can then pinpoint these microbes and track them across the entire nation. Thus, if two people in different parts of the country get sick from the same food and bacteria, the FDA and CDC can see that and determine that an outbreak is happening.

A few years ago, this would’ve been impossible to do, which is why so many illnesses likely flew under the radar. It’s estimated that 48 million illnesses attributed to food poisoning occur every year, but only a small fraction are reported. In 2016, for example, all of the reported food outbreaks together resulted in 14,259 illnesses, a minuscule number compared to the actual estimate.

Through new technology, though, the FDA can not only better respond to food poisoning situations, but also track down what food is responsible, who made it, and where it is currently being sold. Thus, recalls can be issued a lot faster to prevent more consumers from eating something that was contaminated and getting sick.

The FDA also has some other technology that helps it keep track of potential recalls prior to their outbreak. One of these systems is the Reportable Food Registry, a report filing software companies fill out the instant they believe contaminated food could have made it out to consumers. Food production facilities have 24 hours to fill a report out on that site from when that moment occurs. The FDA then reviews these reports and requests suppliers and recipients to be notified as needed. This creates a chain of reports that helps coordinate if a recall becomes necessary.

By using this software, the recall process is streamlined to happen a lot faster. It also acts as a cautionary system to have all potential scenarios covered. Not every report in the RFR will translate to a recall, but for the FDA and CDC, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to food safety.

There are also third-party programs in place that the FDA keeps tabs on that help them identify potential food poisoning scenarios as well. The most well-known amongst these is iwaspoisoned.com, where consumers can report when they got sick and where they ate from that could have caused it. In the past, the site has been used to monitor several major food poisoning events at chains like Chipotle, where the FDA did eventually step in and close restaurants so they could investigate the potential outbreaks.

For the FDA, sites like these provide a huge benefit, since more customers reporting means that they can capture more of the millions of food poisonings that go unnoticed every year. It helps them catch food safety violations from restaurants at a better rate as well, ensuring that those are just as safe as the food that comes out of production facilities.

All of these new technologies have led to an overall safer food supply, as the FDA can catch nationwide outbreaks better, track pathogens across the country, and have information on potential recalls before they even begin.

This proactive approach to food safety does mean that we see more recalls in the news, but that only means that the government is getting better at catching them and preventing us from eating that food.

For us, this means that we can trust in a safer food supply from both grocery stores and restaurants. Of course, it doesn’t mean that we’re eliminating bacteria from the food, but when those contaminations do happen, we’re much less likely to consume them now thanks to the technology the FDA and CDC are leveraging.

So the next time you see a recall make headlines, know that it’s the result of the FDA and CDC doing their jobs better and decreasing your chances of getting food poisoning.

Categories
Fast Food Technology

Little Caesars Just Launched A Pizza Locker That Lets You Avoid Human Interaction

Photo courtesy of Little Caesars

Little Caesars Pizza is the one spot I go to whenever I want to put in the least amount of work to fulfill my pie cravings. The brand’s Hot-N-Ready menu makes it super convenient when I’m starving after work and just want to grab something quick before hopping back on the freeway home. The only minor inconvenience, during the afternoon rush, is that sometimes I’d have to wait in line — something the pizza chain now has an easy fix for.

In what they’re calling a first for the restaurant industry, Little Caesars just announced the national rollout of their Pizza Portal pickup. The Pizza Portal station is essentially a self-heated locker that lets customers roll through a location and pick up a mobile order without ever having to speak to anyone.

They’re pretty similar to Amazon lockers.

All you have to do is place your order through the mobile app, pick your store, and pay for it. Once you arrive, you can skip the counter and and enter either a 3-digit pin or scan a QR code directly into the station and the secured compartment will unlock, giving you access to your hot order.

If successful, the Pizza Portal pickup could skyrocket the convenience of Little Caesars pizza to a whole new level.

Piping food in hand, you’re pretty much in and out before traffic even begins to clear. That’s fine, though. Pizza tastes best when you’re in a parked car bumpin’ Josh Groban.

Categories
Culture News Restaurants Technology

You Can Pay Through Facial Recognition Tech At This California Burger Joint

We’ve had friends ask us to spot them for food because they’ve forgotten both their wallets and phones on multiple lunch breaks. You know who you are. If only there was some kind of technology that would bypass absentmindedness and allow you to pay for your meal with the your most primal of assets: your face.

In a pretty groundbreaking advancement, Cali Burgers announced a pilot program at their Pasadena, CA, location that lets customers pay using their face.

Rather than swiping with a credit card, all you’ll have to do is stand there and smile.

Originally, CaliBurger customers were only able to face log into their loyalty accounts at the self-ordering kiosk. They would then have to use a credit card or their phones to complete their order before receiving food. Now, it appears that has become a thing of the past for anyone with a face.

“The positive customer reaction to face-based loyalty login at the kiosks encouraged us to quickly deploy face based payments at the kiosks,” said John Miller, CEO of Cali Group. “To our knowledge, this is the first time in America that customers in a retail environment can pay without needing a physical or digital wallet.”

Once patrons’ faces are scanned, all they’ll have to do is enter their 3-digit CVV number from their credit card to finish the transaction.

CaliBurger’s payment program launches on Jan. 30.

Definitely going to go try it out a few times. Wonder if they’ll be able to recognize my face after I put on a few pounds though?

Categories
Fast Food Technology

Burger King Flusters Customers By Using Whoppers To Explain Net Neutrality

At the tail end of last year, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality rules. This meant that cable providers could slow down Internet services and charge more for fasters speeds or even better service.

Super wack.

In an effort to raise awareness on the subject, Burger King created a short commercial explaining the concept of net neutrality through the Whopper. And it’s actually pretty brilliant.

The fast food restaurant temporarily transformed into a Burger King/Net Neutrality Pop-Up concept.

While regular items (fries, chicken sandwiches) cost and took the same time to make as they usually would, those who ordered Whoppers were faced with a predicament.

Customers either had to wait really long time to get their hands on Burger King’s signature burger, or they could pay up to five times as much for the burger just to have it immediately.

Needless to say, some customers were steamed.

If you’re one who learns things more easily through visuals and tasty burgers, you might want to check out this commercial. Watching this really did clear up the concept of net neutrality a bit for us.

While this was an ad to inform viewers about net neutrality, Burger King claims the participants were actual customers. The only thing fake was the pricing for the faster speeds of burger making.

Categories
Grocery News

Newest Whole Foods 365 Market Could Be Glimpse Into Tech Advances From Amazon Influence

When I think of a typical grocery store, the only technologically advanced system is the self-checkout aisle. Us self-righteous millennials demand more!

In case you’ve actually been living under a rock (no judgments), Amazon acquired Whole Foods last June in a $13.4 billion deal. While we can only imagine the technological advantages that will manifest from this (*praying hand emoji* please be drone delivery) we do know that Amazon recently revealed a “smart convenience store” where registers aren’t even required.

While we begrudgingly wait for more announcements, the convenience store concept further demonstrates the importance of technological pioneering within the e-commerce giant, meaning it can only get more tech from here.

Good thing 365 by Whole Foods Market already has.

The fifth location of the Whole Foods wallet-friendly spin-off has made the treacherous journey across the 101 FWY in Los Angeles to become a Westside neighborhood staple.

With a carefully curated stock, 365 locations boast “no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or hydrogenated oils” within their product lines, but there’s another key ingredient that the store has subbed for success: in-store technology.

365 tech assets consist of kiosk ordering via iPads, electronic shelf labels, home delivery via Instacart, an energy efficient area for chilled produce, and digital punch cards for multiple products across the store. Oh, and there’s also an iPad that doubles as a sommelier because… wine not?

“It’s not technology for technology sake, it’s meant to be useful and help you,” explained Turnas, president of 365 by Whole Foods Market. “I think a lot of what we try to do is more of a digital presence… so I think that appeals to a broad range of people.”

The Whole Foods Market 365 concept prides itself on simplicity and convenience — not to mention lower prices in which its Whole Foods parent is infamously not known for. “The pricing is really competitive,” stated Jeff Turnas. “Our concept is one where we’ve got Whole Foods market quality which is delivered in a little bit different setting.”

So Santa Monica health-nuts and Venice yogis rejoice! You can now have your organic salad bar and eat it, too (for way less). As for Amazon’s technological influence? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see what’s in store.

Categories
Fast Food Technology

Lyft Now Has A ‘Taco Mode’ That Lets You Make A Taco Bell Pitstop

Photo: Taco Bell

Taco Bell has announced a new partnership with Lyft that’ll surely please anyone with the late-night munchies hoping to grab some fast food on their way home.

The ride share app will now feature a “Taco Mode” that activates with the push of a button. Taco Mode allows customers to visit The Bell on their way home. Some lucky riders will even get free swag and tacos during the limited promotion.

Taco Mode testing is currently underway in Orange County, CA, where Taco Bell Headquarters resides. The collaboration between the two brands will be available between July 27-29 and August 3-5. It will only be open from the hours of 9pm to 2am. Whether the Lyft driver gets to indulge on that Taco Bell goodness remains to be seen.

Now that Lyft has Taco Bell on lock, we wonder if they’re open to partnering up with any fried chicken spots. Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?