Tag Archives: food

Don’t just stir; Stircle

Although I do my best to minimize the trash produced by my lifestyle (blog posts notwithstanding), one I can’t really control, at least without carrying a spoon on my person at all times, is the necessity of using a disposable stick to stir my coffee. That could all change with the Stircle , a little platform that spins your drink around to mix it. Now, of course this is ridiculous. And there are other things to worry about. But honestly, the scale of waste here is pretty amazing. Design house Amron Experimental says that 400 million stir sticks are used every day, and I have no reason to doubt that. My native Seattle probably accounts for a quarter of that. So you need to get the sugar (or agave nectar) and cream (or almond milk) mixed in your iced americano. Instead of reaching for a stick and stirring vigorously for 10 or 15 seconds, you could instead place your cup in the Stircle (first noticed by New Atlas and a few other design blogs), which would presumably be built into the fixins table at your coffee shop. Around and around and around she goes, where she stops, nobody… oh. There. Once you put your cup on the Stircle, it starts spinning — first one way, then the other, and so on, agitating your drink and achieving the goal of an evenly mixed beverage without using a wood or plastic stirrer. It’s electric, but I can imagine one being powered by a lever or button that compresses a spring. That would make it even greener.

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Resy rolls out a new suite of tools for restaurants

Resy launched in the summer of 2014 with a simple premise : If you want a premium reservation at a restaurant on short notice, you should be able to pay for it. Four years and 160 markets later, Resy has changed a lot since then. But today, the company is about to change things up even more. This morning, Resy has announced a brand new suite of tools for restaurants, including a new inventory management system called ResyFly. As it stands now, restaurants have two options when it comes to inventory management for their reservations. They can choose a slot system, where diners are seated at 6pm, 8pm and 10pm, or they can opt for a flex system, where they take reservations as they’re called in and build the night’s reservations based off what comes in first. Unfortunately, most restaurants have to choose between these two systems, as there are no inventory management systems that offer the ability to do both, according to Resy. ResyFly uses Resy’s troves of data to determine the best way for restaurants to eliminate gaps in their inventory throughout a given night, taking into account things like date, time, weather, and even the average time spent eating at a given restaurant. The tool gives restaurants the ability to schedule different floor plans, reservation grids and hours of operation for special days like Valentines Day. Alongside ResyFly, the company is also introducing Business Intelligence, a window into important information like KPIs, revenue, and ratings with third-party information from platforms like Foursquare layered in and integrated with POS software providers to offer real-time revenue reporting.

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How artificial intelligence will take over the supermarket produce aisles

Artificial intelligence is about more than asking Alexa or Siri to turn on the lights at home and add a reminder to the calendar about getting some milk at the store later in the afternoon. The true power of AI and machine learning is how it can democratize expertise, lowering the barriers to entry for tasks that once could only be performed by a small group of specialists. The result, one day, will be that your self-driving car drops you off at the supermarket, where you will find higher-quality foods available at prices lower than they’ve ever been. It will happen through the use of machine learning algorithms that absorb a large volume of data, recognize patterns and apply statistical probabilities to choose the course of action most likely to result in a successful outcome. For example , Google’s famous self-driving car used machine learning to catalog a number of interesting behaviors on the road. Whenever the car’s sensors recognized a garbage truck ahead, vehicles following behind tended to pull suddenly into the next lane to get around it — usually without signaling. So the Google car stored this pattern of behavior and adapted its position and speed to minimize the possibility that these “unexpected” lane changes would cause a collision. For humans, this is a common defensive driving skill, but replicating this level of awareness in a machine would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Now, powerful algorithms can conquer the chaos of streets filled with drivers of all skill levels, including those paying more attention to their phones than the road ahead. Artificial intelligence and agriculture As amazing as that may be, the application of machine learning to the living fields of agriculture is an order of magnitude more complex. A road network is fixed, with a map that rarely changes and provides a solid foundation for the algorithm to make its decisions. No matter how calm and peaceful a wind-swept field of wheat might appear to the casual observer, agricultural fields are truly chaotic places. There’s unpredictable weather, changes in soil quality and the ever-present possibility that pests and disease may pay a visit.

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Postmates launching pickup feature

Postmates, the startup that offers on-demand delivery for anything in your city, now lets people order ahead for pickup. This comes about one year after Square’s Caviar expanded into pickups , following the acquisition of OrderAhead’s pickup business. Postmates started testing Pickup in San Francisco earlier this week, and plans to officially launch it in the next couple of weeks, a Postmates spokesperson told TechCrunch. Currently, there are over 200 merchants participating in Pickup, including my personal favorite, Papalote. “The idea around pickup is around expanding the retail experience to our merchants,” the spokesperson said. “It’s giving those merchants another tool to expand the reach.” After the official launch in San Francisco, Postmates plans to expand Pickup to New York and Los Angeles within the next couple of months. This update comes after Postmates in November shipped a revamped version of its app, which added a grocery service and scheduled deliveries to the platform. Postmates’ pickup functionality comes on the heels of news it may be teaming up with DoorDash in an effort to better compete against Uber, GrubHub and Amazon, Recode reported earlier today . Postmates declined to comment on the rumor to TechCrunch. To date, Postmates is doing three million deliveries a month with a gross merchandise volume of $1.2 billion.

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China’s Didi Chuxing confirms it has launched a food delivery business

Amid plenty of speculation, China’s ride-hailing leader Didi Chuxing has officially entered the food delivery space. The company, which acquired Uber’s China-based business in 2016, confirmed today it is running a pilot food delivery service in Wuxi, a city in southern Jiangsu province, with a view to expanding further. The service began on April 1, and Didi claims to have captured one-third of the market since then. It’s a little early to get carried away with market share data — like ride-hailing, food delivery services launch with short-term offers and low prices to get initial attention — but it is clear that Didi has its eyes on another segment beyond point-to-point transportation services. The firm  recently raised $1.6 billion  ( supposedly ) for the new business and it began recruiting delivery drivers in Wuxi early last month, according to our Chinese partner site Technode . Luo Wen, who heads up the new Didi service, said the company plans complete the Wuxi trial “as swiftly as possible” in order to launch the food delivery platform more widely. “We are looking to expand the service to more cities in the near term,” he added. Still, it’s a surprise that it has taken the five-year-old company this long to get into food delivery. Uber Eats went on a major global expansion last year, while regional competitors Ola, Grab and Go-Jek all entered the space some time ago. Yet Didi, a big dog with its $56 billion valuation and investments across five continents , is only just dipping its toes in now. Right now the timing seems particularly apt given that China’s largest food delivery service is actively taking on Didi’s core business. Meituan Dianping, a $30 billion-valued startup, launched ride-hailing services over the past six months and this week it scooped up Mobike, one of China’s top two bike-sharing companies, in a $2.7 billion deal . The company has raised over $8 billion from investors, including a massive $4 billion round last October , so there’s money to burn to fuel its expansion ambitions.

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Where’s the beef? For Impossible Foods it’s in boosting burger sales and raising hundreds of millions

Any company that’s looking to replace the more than 5 billion pounds of ground beef making its way onto tables in the U.S. every year with a meatless substitute is going to need a lot of cash. It’s a big vision with lots of implications for the world — from climate change and human health to challenging the massive, multi-billion dollar industries that depend on meat — and luckily for Impossible Foods (one of the many companies looking to supplant the meat business globally), the company has managed to attract big-name investors with incredibly deep pockets to fund its meatless mission. In the seven years since the company raised its first $7 million investment from Khosla Ventures, Impossible Foods has managed to amass another $389 million in financing — most recently in the form of a convertible note from the Singaporean global investment powerhouse Temasek (which is backed by the Singaporean government) and the Chinese investment fund Sailing Capital (a state-owned investment fund backed by the Communist Party-owned Chinese financial services firm, Shanghai International Group). “Part of the reason why we did this as a convertible note is that we knew we would increase our valuation with the launch of our business,” says David Lee, Impossible Foods chief operating officer. “We closed $114 million in the last 18 months.” The company raised its last equity round of $108 million in September 2015. Lee declined to comment on the company’s path to profitability, valuation or revenues. Impossible began selling its meat substitute back in 2016 with a series of launches at some of America’s fanciest restaurants in conjunction with the country’s most celebrated young chefs. David Chang (of Momofuku fame in New York) and Traci Des Jardins of Jardiniére and  Chris Cosentino  of Cockscomb signed on in San Francisco, as well as Tal Ronnen of Crossroads in Los Angeles. “ When we launched a year ago, we were producing out of a pilot facility,” says Impossible co-founder Pat Brown. Now we have a full-fledged production facility producing 2.5 million pounds per month at the end of the year.” The new facility, which opened in Oakland last year, has its work cut out for it

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Amazon announces Alexa Donations, powered by Amazon Pay, allowing users to give to one of 48 charities and nonprofits via voice commands (Shannon…

Shannon Liao / The Verge : Amazon announces Alexa Donations, powered by Amazon Pay, allowing users to give to one of 48 charities and nonprofits via voice commands   —  You can now donate to charity with your voice by asking Amazon's Alexa.  Today, the tech giant announced a new feature called Alexa Donations, powered by Amazon Pay.

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Google search chief John Giannandrea to step down and return to AI research, Jeff Dean will lead Google’s AI efforts, and Ben Gomes will become VP of…

Abner Li / 9to5Google : Google search chief John Giannandrea to step down and return to AI research, Jeff Dean will lead Google's AI efforts, and Ben Gomes will become VP of search   —  Two years ago, Google appointed its head of artificial intelligence to lead Search in a move that reflected the future of the company.

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Grindr defends sharing users’ personal info, including HIV status, with 3rd parties when "appropriate", says it doesn’t sell the info or…

Ina Fried / Axios : Grindr defends sharing users' personal info, including HIV status, with 3rd parties when “appropriate”, says it doesn't sell the info or provide to advertisers   —  LGBTQ dating site Grindr said it does share some data with third party vendors, including customers' HIV status …

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Grindr defends sharing users’ personal info, including HIV status, with 3rd parties when "appropriate", says it doesn’t sell the info or…

Ina Fried / Axios : Grindr defends sharing users' personal info, including HIV status, with 3rd parties when “appropriate”, says it doesn't sell the info or provide to advertisers   —  LGBTQ dating site Grindr said it does share some data with third party vendors, including customers' HIV status …

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Tor says it’s sunsetting Tor Messenger, which launched in 2015 as a cross-platform OTR chat program (Sukhbir/Tor Project)

Sukhbir / Tor Project : Tor says it's sunsetting Tor Messenger, which launched in 2015 as a cross-platform OTR chat program   —  In 2015, we introduced Tor Messenger, a cross-platform chat program that aimed to be secure by default by sending all of its traffic over Tor and enforcing encrypted one-to-one conversations …

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Google expands its initiative to equip rural school buses with Wi-Fi and Chromebooks to 16 additional school districts (Chris Welch/The Verge)

Chris Welch / The Verge : Google expands its initiative to equip rural school buses with Wi-Fi and Chromebooks to 16 additional school districts   —  Google today announced an expansion of its Rolling Study Halls initiative to over 16 additional school districts, giving “thousands” of students access to Wi-Fi and Chromebooks on their buses.

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Walmart rolls out a small high-tech supermarket in China, with a WeChat mini program to bypass checkout, deliveries in under 30 minutes within a 2km…

Reuters : Walmart rolls out a small high-tech supermarket in China, with a WeChat mini program to bypass checkout, deliveries in under 30 minutes within a 2km radius   —  BEIJING (Reuters) - Walmart Inc said on Monday it has opened its first small-sized high-tech supermarket in China …

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