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?

Categories
Drinks Opinion Restaurants Technology

Starbucks’ Problem with Baristas Could Be Solved Through Automation

Photo: Hao Xing (Wikimedia Commons)

2017 hasn’t been a good year so far for Starbucks. Yahoo Finance reports that their same-store sales dropped two percent in the first quarter of 2017 and just held steady in the second quarter, meaning that their revenue has been taking a consistent hit over the past six months.

To make matters worse, Business Insider conducted interviews with current and former baristas who brought up complaints of understaffed stores, low paying wages, and the notion that Starbucks’ corporate branch would prefer their baristas to “act like machines.”

Baristas thus feel like they are a “hindrance” to the corporate agenda and are continually harried by customers who feel their drinks aren’t being prepared fast enough while they don’t have the manpower to keep up. Relationships that baristas once had with regulars are gone, and with trending beverages and new methods of ordering being swiftly rolled out across the country, barista morale continues to drop as the pressure to sell more drinks mounts.

It’s likely that Starbucks’ drop in sales has been a result of the issues baristas are bringing up across the workplace. Fortunately, a simple solution exists that helps increase the efficiency of a Starbucks coffee shop and lifts some weight off of their shoulders: automation.

By introducing robots to perform simple functions like brewing coffee and crafting beverages, Starbucks can keep up with new offerings by simply programming them into restaurants nationwide. Baristas could then spend their time improving customer satisfaction and restoring relationships with regular customers while the robots act like an additional staff member that simply completes customers’ orders.

The technology to accomplish this already exists. A robot coffee shop called Cafe X features a machine that can make seven different beverages, all with different custom modifications like the ones Starbucks has. While it doesn’t offer the scope or size differences the way Starbucks does, it can still make a large proportion of Starbucks’ drinks without a lot of additional programming.

Whether Starbucks can actually order and implement these robots is a question that remains to be answered, but Starbucks does have over $2 billion in cash available for potential investment opportunities. Automation should definitely be a route Starbucks considers to help its employees out, because they could aid in increasing sales by producing drinks faster and more efficiently, freeing up baristas to retain customers through friendly relationships.

It’s a bold strategy, but one that a company the size of Starbucks looking to improve sales should be willing to at least test to see if it would be a success.

Categories
Products

You Can Actually Buy A Working BANANA PHONE

A phone with appeal.

No better pun could describe what potentially will be the most sought-out food-themed gadget to hit the markets: the banana phone.

Created by a group aptly named Banana Phone, the device is shaped like the bright yellow fruit beloved by monkeys and humans alike.

The phone is actually a bluetooth enabled handset that connects to your smart phone. Once paired with your device, it’s able to receive and make phone calls. Through Siri/Google Assistant, you won’t even have to dial.

One percent of phone profits will to towards Gearing Up For Gorillas, a nonprofit that focuses on the conservation of the rare mountain gorilla in Virunga National Park.

The banana phone is estimated to cost a suggested retail price of $50 once it goes on sale, but you can back it for $40 on the company’s Indiegogo page, where you can also find more information about the product.

Categories
Hit-Or-Miss

This Shake-Resistant, Smart Spoon Is Completely Spill-Proof

In a world dominated by smart phones, smart watches and smart cars, it seems there are countless inventions being created to help make life easier. Still, even the most impressive smart technology can become inaccessible to those with limited physical mobility.

For people living with a physical disability, whether it be a spinal cord injury, stroke, Huntington’s disease, or even mild to severe hand tremors, basic everyday tasks, such as eating, can be very difficult. That’s why Verily Life Sciences is working to bring smart technology for those who need it most, in the form of kitchen utensils.

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In 2013, Verily Life Sciences introduced the Liftware Steady (pictured left), a computerized handle, with basic utensil attachments, that contains sensors programmed to detect hand motion and stabilize unwanted tremors from the intended movement of the hand. This type of stabilization technology was designed to ease the frustration people living with tremors, and enable them to focus on their meal.

The company’s newest product, The Liftware Level (pictured right), is a self-leveling handle which contains sensors that detect changes from the intended movement of the hand.

The Liftware Level includes a spoon and fork attachments designed to give individuals living with limited arm and hand movement the ability to hold a utensil — at any angle —  and easily feed themselves.

Most importantly, both Liftware products are designed to allow people to regain confidence and focus on the most important parts of every meal — the food, and the people.

Inventions of this magnitude should be considered a breakthrough for those struggling with physical limitations. The Liftware Level is the world’s first spill-proof smart utensil that analyzes a users hand and arm position, and counteracts the effects of hand tremors and other involuntary movements.

Introduced to the public on Dec. 1, 2016, The Liftware Level Starter Kit is now available for $195 on its website, and is expected to ship before the holidays.

In recognition of such a important step forward in assisting individuals with physical limitations,  the Huntington Disease Society of America is donating 1,000 Liftware Level Starter Kits via its website, to those that apply.

This program is only is only intended for those affected by Huntington’s disease. Donations will be granted on a first come, first served basis.

Categories
Drinks Hit-Or-Miss Video

5 Science Experiments You Can Try With A Coke Can

The Crazy Russian Hacker is one of the most interesting dudes on YouTube. You may remember him as the dude who turned Nutella into a fire starter.

In his latest video, he shows us five quirky little experiments you can do with a simple can of soda. Low-key, we kind of wish we had this guy as a science teacher. I probably would have stayed awake more.

Let’s check ’em out real quick and see what kind of wacky things come from a our midday caffeine fix.

The Imploding Can

The first and most dangerous of the experiments requires you to boil some of the water inside the Coke can and submerge it face down into a bowl of water.

The interior of the can should instantly concave, leaving a crushed can that you won’t have to lay a finger on.

This one, he stresses, kids should not try at home.

Blowing A Can Out A Glass

Put an empty soda can into a glass bowl and blow sideways. The can should propel out of the glass with a decent amount of force.

The Russian Hacker even tries to make a game out of it, seeing if he can shoot the can into another cup.

The Suction Cup

A pretty cool party trick, we find out how to get a can of soda to stick to your forehead. Press the bottom of the empty can against your forehead until a vacuum is created.

If done right, it should stick to your head like a soda-slinging demon from hell.

Balancing On The Rim Of A Jar

If you’ve got the patience, this trick is probably our most favorite. Fill an empty can of soda with about 100 mL of liquid. Then, carefully place it on the rim of a jar. Use your hands to steadily balance the can until you’re confident it can stand on its own.

Your friends will argue that you glued the can on, to which  you can gingerly tap it and shatter their perceptions.

The Sink Test

Finally, we get a visual look at how different diet sodas are compared to regular. Using a fish tank, the two variations of Coca-Cola are dropped at the same time. The original sinks straight to the bottom while the diet float to the top.

A great trick to see which beverages are more calorie friendly than others.

Categories
Drinks News Technology

New Driving App Gives Users Free Coffee If Phones Go Untouched

More people glance at their cell phones while driving than they’d like to admit. As quick as a simple look would take, a split-second of losing focus could mean life or death on the road.

Toyota’s concern for this dilemma was clear when they recently collaborated with a mobile phone company to release a new app in Japan that gives drivers an incentive to keep from glancing at their phones, reports RocketNews 24.

Called the Driving Barista, the app tracks how long your phone remains facedown as you drive. If a consecutive 100 kilometers (62 miles) are reached, you earn yourself a free coffee from Japanese coffee chain Komeda Coffee. You get more coffee as more miles accumulate.

Using the phone’s GPS and internal gyroscope, drivers will find it difficult to cheat themselves to a free cup of joe. Just keep your eyes on the road and you’ll get your caffeine fix.

This isn’t the first time a brand has incorporated smart technology to keep consumers from looking at their phones when they’re not supposed to.

Hopefully, the Driving Barista sees some success in Japan. We sure could use something similar in the US. Though it’s alarming to think that we need an incentive to detach ourselves from our phones.

Categories
Alcohol Drinks Products Technology

This Machine Makes Instant Cocktails At The Push Of A Button

It was a whole process the first time I learned how to mix a martini. Though a cathartic experience, it would definitely be easier if I could push a button and have one ready to drink in seconds.

A new invention promising to be the Keurig of cocktails seems to have solved that, says Dose.

The Somabar is essentially a robotic bartender that will make cocktails for you the way a pod coffeemaker would. The machine operates six refillable “Soma Pods”, which are similar to K-Cups. Different kinds of liqueurs, bitters, syrups, and mixers are available to play with.

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The Somabar even goes one step further than a Keurig in that it is Wi-Fi operated. This means you can create your drink from anywhere in the house with your smartphone and just come pick it up when you’re ready.

If the trend of turning any kind of beverage into a Keurig-like machine continues, we may never have to interact with a living person to quench our thirst ever again. Though, unfortunately, you will have to add garnishes and shake the drinks yourself.

Still, a bartender that won’t cut you off…

You can pre-order units for $429 at their website now.

Images: Somabar

Categories
Art Cravings Fast Food Hit-Or-Miss Technology

How This Gorgeous ‘Burger Drop’ Video Was Made Without CGI

Have you ever sat through a fast food commercial and wondered how they capture that mouth-watering stack of cheeseburger components dropping from the sky until they form a delicious burger Megazord?

In a recent 15-second burger video, that’s what exactly happens. Every single one of those seconds were carefully calculated.

Photographer Steve Giralt set out to see how much work actually goes into a burger drop. Through a machine he calls the Precision Arduino Timing Relay Imaging Controller, Giralt was able to capture every single ingredient with his camera without using any CGI.

The process goes as this: the food items were held together with rubber bands in the machine and released, video footage captured in the time it takes for a heart to beat. Needless to say, it was an impressive passion project.

You can see in this behind-the-scenes video the time-consuming process behind the 15-second clip of a burger drop.