Robots On a Diet
November 26, 2019 | Design Thinking
by ExperiencePoint

The bots are here. Artificial intelligence (AI) is quickly altering our world. The rapid leaps in progress can change the experience of everyday life. For consumers, it means more than simple conveniences such as Siri and Google Home; there are now self-driving cars and entire smart-home interfaces.

But AI isn’t limited to fun gadgets for your living room—it’s serious business in the business world. The AI wave has become more like a tsunami, with companies scrambling to hit the smart-technology jackpot first.

What can make AI even more future-ready?

Now that the sheer novelty of AI is wearing off, it’s time to start thinking about the most productive ways it can be developed and leveraged. Figuring out the problems that AI could solve is a perfect job for design thinking.

In this two-part post, we’ll look at how two companies in the restaurant industry are using design thinking to enhance AI. Karakuri and F&P Robotics have crafted approaches that just might revolutionize the way we dine out.

Karakuri is a robotics startup with a breakthrough idea. According to Venture Beat, the company is trying to combine machine learning, optics and sensors to help kitchens automate the process of dispensing ingredients and measuring precise quantities.

Karakuri’s flagship product, the DK-One, is a robotic machine used for dispensing food at a mass scale. The machine consists of a few robotic arms that can be programmed to personalize meals and control portions by consistently and predictably grabbing the correct amount of an ingredient to add to a dish or portion.

The system solves two pain points—one for consumers and the other for restauranteurs.

Barney Wragg, CEO and co-founder of Karakuri, came up with the idea by thinking about the needs of consumers with restricted diets. He also considered how commercial kitchens could meet these needs in large quantities.

Four percent of adults have some type of food allergy. Wragg wanted an easier, faster and safer way for kitchens to deal with specialized food-allergy orders.

Wragg told Venture Beat: “Consumer eating habits in and out of the home are changing rapidly as demand increases for healthier options that match specific dietary requirements.”

He explains that restaurants struggle to meet the rapid growth in menu personalization, arguing that, these days, it’s virtually mandatory for restaurants to have gluten free, low carb and vegan options on their menu. “These providers have historically relied on identically mass-proxied meals to maintain their profit margins,” he says. “By using robotics and machine learning, Karakuri’s systems provide localized micro-manufacturing within an existing restaurant, retail, or commercial kitchen.”

Karakuri is also environmentally conscious. In addition to making lives easier for food-restricted customers and kitchens, the machine’s automation drastically cuts down on food waste and improper packaging.

Karakuri is a great example of the way design thinking can help AI find problems that are worth solving. By zeroing in on the human dimension of an eating trend, design thinking was able to get to the heart of what diners need. By empathizing with both sides of the restaurant experience, and creating solutions to solve pain points, Karakuri created a win-win.

Stay tuned for our next post on F&P Robotics and their cocktail-making robot.


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