News Briefs

  • 10/11/2023

    SoundHound AI Voice-Enables New Vehicle Intelligence Domain For Instant Hands-Free Access To Car Manual

    voice ai soundwaves

    SoundHound AI  Inc.  announced a new Vehicle Intelligence domain that lets users of its in-vehicle voice AI platform access the car manual using natural speech. The new domain follows the recent launch of SoundHound Chat AI for Automotive, which is currently being piloted in vehicles.

    As technology develops, car manufacturers introduce more features every year – making car manuals increasingly complex. But in a fast-paced, digitized world drivers want instant access to information about their vehicle without having to pull over or spend time leafing through a physical manual. SoundHound’s voice-enabled Vehicle Intelligence domain uses artificial intelligence and large language models (LLMs) to provide answers to almost any question about a car’s functionality, maintenance, or repair – completely hands-free.

    The in-car verbal response is generated using SoundHound’s voice AI, which draws upon Generative AI and vehicle-specific data to provide an instant, reliable answer that saves the user time and effort. The Vehicle Intelligence domain is the latest addition to SoundHound’s library of over 100 existing information domains – ranging from flight times to stock prices, weather, restaurant availability, and more – and can be activated in vehicles using SoundHound’s voice AI platform.

    SoundHound currently works with 20 vehicle brands globally to provide fast, accurate in-vehicle voice AI. For more information visit SoundHound.com/voice-ai-solutions/automotive.

  • 10/4/2023

    Chipotle Tests Digital Make Line

    Chipotle digital make line and employee

    Chipotle Mexican Grill is testing an automated digital makeline in collaboration with Hyphen, a foodservice platform designed to help restaurant owners, operators, and budding chefs move their business forward by automating kitchen operations. Bowls and salads are created by an automated system that moves the entrées through the bottom makeline where ingredients for the order are dispensed automatically. In tandem, a Chipotle team member can leverage the top makeline to create burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and kid's meals for the same digital order.

    How It Works

    1. Digital orders would be placed via the Chipotle app, Chipotle.com, or third-party platforms.  
    2. If the order included a bowl or salad, those entrées would be routed to Hyphen's automated system. The bowl traverses along the bottom makeline and positions itself under the specified ingredient container. The intelligent dispensers dynamically portion each ingredient into the bowl. If the order included burritos, tacos, quesadillas, or kid's meals, a Chipotle team member would use the top of the same makeline to create those entrées.
    3. The completed bowl or salad would be raised from the bottom makeline and revealed at the end of the makeline through an opening in the countertop. A Chipotle team member would place a lid on the entrée and add any final items such as chips, side salsas, or guacamole to the order.
    4. Completed orders would be placed in their designated pick-up area: in-restaurant pickup shelves, walk-up window, or Chipotlane.

    Employee & Guest Experience


    Approximately 65% of all Chipotle digital orders are bowls or salads, so the cobotic digital makeline has the potential to free up more time for employees to service the front makeline and deliver exceptional hospitality, while simultaneously increasing capacity for digital orders during peak periods.

    The new digital makeline could also help enhance digital order accuracy, improving the guest experience.

    "Chipotle's new digital makeline built by Hyphen embodies our commitment to leveraging robotics to unlock the human potential of our workforce, ensuring an elevated dining experience for our guests," said Curt Garner, Chief Customer and Technology Officer. "Our goal is to have the automated digital makeline be the centerpiece of all our restaurants' digital kitchens." 

    Chipotle's Investment in Hyphen


    Chipotle invested in Hyphen as part of Cultivate Next, the company's $50 million venture fund that intends to make early-stage investments into strategically aligned companies that further its mission to Cultivate a Better World and help accelerate its aggressive growth plans. As a people-first company, Chipotle is seeking opportunities that will elevate the human experience for its teams as well as increase access and convenience for its guests. Investments may include innovations in farming and supply chain, advanced robotics, alternative proteins, and more.

    Through Cultivate Next, Chipotle also invested in Vebu, a product development company that works with food industry leaders to co-create intelligent automation and technology solutions. Earlier this year, Chipotle and Vebu unveiled the Autocado, an avocado processing cobotic prototype that cuts, cores, and peels avocados before they are hand mashed to create the restaurant's famous guacamole. 

     

    image courtesy of Chipotle

  • 6/21/2023

    Shiji and IPORT Partner to Transform Hotel Restaurant Operations with All-in-One Tablet and Payment Device Solution

    Shiji teaser logo

    Shiji, a global hospitality technology innovator, has partnered with IPORT, an award-winning manufacturer known for enhancing the usability of iPads and iPhones, to introduce an all-in-one software solution for hotel restaurants. This collaboration will provide hoteliers with a seamless combination of a tablet and payment device to maximize their F&B operations.

    The integrated iOS and payment device solution simplifies guest service for hotel restaurant servers, providing them with an effortless tool to cater to their guests' needs. As a certified Apple partner, Shiji and IPORT guarantee exceptional performance and reliability. Hoteliers can choose from multiple device options, including iPad Pro, iPad Mini, and iPhone, ensuring flexibility and compatibility with their operations.

    “IPORT products are built around modularity and flexibility that empower our hospitality customers to do more with the iOS platform. We are thrilled to partner with a leading iPad and iPhone cloud PMS and POS platform provider like Shiji,” said Chris Lawson, Head of Partnerships, IPORT. “We look forward to innovating with Shiji in disrupting legacy, monolithic providers who have limited the industry from harnessing the power of iOS and mobility. The future is bright, and the possibilities are endless with IPORT, iOS, and Shiji.”

    "The partnership with IPORT is a significant milestone for Shiji in our commitment to provide innovative technology solutions for the hospitality industry," said Ryan King, Senior Vice President of Shiji in the Americas. "By combining our expertise with IPORT’s hardware solutions, we empower hoteliers to streamline restaurant operations and deliver exceptional guest experiences. This collaboration represents another step forward in our dedication to driving success in the Americas, and globally."

    The tablet and payment device solution seamlessly integrates with multiple payment gateways, allowing hoteliers to choose the system that best suits their needs. By simplifying the payment process, it reduces operational complexities, minimizes errors, and saves valuable time and resources for hoteliers.

  • 10/6/2023

    Blackbird Lab Raises $24M for Blockchain-Based Restaurant Loyalty

    loyalty buttons

    Blackbird Labs, a hospitality technology company whose platform helps restaurants directly connect and reward their guests, as well as incentivize these customers to return, has raised a $24 Million Series A round.

    Blackbird was founded in 2022 by Ben Leventhal, co-founder of Eater and Resy.

    The new funding will help Blackbird scale operations as it meets an ever growing need from leading restaurants across the country for an all new solution that will help them drive customer loyalty and create new revenue streams.

    The round was led by a16z, with participation from Amex Ventures and Bolt by QED, as well as the company's previous seed investors like Union Square Ventures, Shine, Variant, plus restaurant groups: Quality Branded, Rustic Canyon Family, Souvla and Brooks Reitz.

    In just a few short months, Blackbird has struck a chord with over 80 restaurants in the industry, with 22 restaurants already live. This set includes New York restaurants like: Anton's, Corner Bar, Crown Shy, Di An Di, Ensenada, Ernesto's, estela, Fish Cheeks, Freeman's, Francie, gertrude's, Hanoi House, Joseph Leonard, Momofuku, Nami Nori, Principe, Overstory, and SAGA; Jon & Vinny's (LA), Souvla (San Francisco), Daytrip (Oakland), Little Jack's Tavern (Charleston), The Daily (Charleston), Melfi's (Charleston), Razza Pizza (Jersey City). 

     

    How it Works 

    With Blackbird's advanced platform, restaurants can seamlessly gather insights, including their diners' likes and dislikes, where they prefer to sit, and how many times they've visited the establishment. As today's dining landscape becomes increasingly fragmented, with little direct connectivity between guests and restaurants, Blackbird's technology helps restaurants get to really know their patrons. Operators can consistently surprise and delight their customers, while giving them the special feeling that they are very important and appreciated regulars, sparking increased and ongoing loyalty to the restaurant.

    For diners, Blackbird is also incredibly easy to use. When customers arrive at a restaurant, they simply tap their phone on a Blackbird NFC reader and enter their phone number to create their membership. From there they start leveling up their regular status with each subsequent tap-in, thus unlocking benefits and insider perks like surprise off menu items and even a direct SMS concierge. They also earn $FLY, Blackbird's non-transferable native token, which opens up a world of possibility. Diners can use their $FLY to power up for specific items they might want or they can also use them for membership rewards with a specific restaurant. Blackbird users also don't need to have a pre-existing web3 wallet. The company works with Privy to provide embedded wallets, so users who simply sign in with their phone number get a self-custodial wallet for use. Users are able to manage their memberships, view $FLY balance, monitor recent activity and message restaurants all through the Blackbird app.

    "Web3 enables a powerful, new way for restaurants and guests to connect, making each dining experience unique and more meaningful," said Arianna Simpson, General Partner at a16z crypto. "...With just a few taps, diners can unlock new loyalty programs that only web3 technology can provide."

    With its new funding, Blackbird also has plans to rapidly expand its offering into new markets, as it continues to roll out new features like: $FLY Redemption, which empowers consumers to use their accumulated $FLY points to "power up" and redeem perks either in the moment or in a future planned visit at participating Blackbird restaurants. The company will also be introducing an all-new referral program, giving diners the ability to text their friend a link to become members at a specific restaurant, where they will gain access to an entirely new and exclusive slate of offerings. Diners will also be able to opt into global data sharing, where restaurants will gain visibility into their full dining history and any associated insights, in exchange for providing more $FLY on regular dining activity like tap-ins.

    "Blackbird offers a compelling new platform with the potential to evolve how restaurants deliver on loyalty and supercharge the insights they need to thrive," said Matt Sueoka, Global Head of Amex Ventures. "We are thrilled to back Blackbird as they explore how to leverage web3 technology to positively transform the dining experience for consumers and the restaurant industry."

    For more information on Blackbird,  visit https://www.blackbird.xyz/.

  • 10/11/2023

    Leading Hotels Unveils New Mobile App

    screenshot of leading hotels mobile app

    The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW), the largest collection of independent luxury hotels, that spans 80 destinations is pleased to announce the launch of its brand-wide mobile app. The Leading Hotels app was designed for both hotel guests, as well as Leaders Club members visiting any of the curated collection’s 400-plus properties.

    The Leading Hotels app will offer guests the ability to discover and book properties, request room upgrades, and manage reservations across multiple properties in a trip. Beyond the discovery of LHW properties, the app lets guests view property-specific information, dining options, amenity offerings, local maps and directions, and transportation services. Guests can submit pre-arrival and service requests at select properties on their personal mobile device.

    “We are eager to offer our travelers access to our new app,” said Phil Koserowski, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer of The Leading Hotels of the World. “The app will empower guests to deepen their experience throughout their travel journey with Leading Hotels from inspiration and booking, to pre-arrival and on-property. For our hoteliers, it will offer highly customizable solutions to help them improve staff efficiency, enhance the guest experience, and drive incremental on-property revenue.”

    The app was designed to elevate each stay and inspire future sojourns, with features that deliver:

    • Seamless Service: Make a reservation or manage an upcoming stay. Once checked in, the app acts as a personal concierge for guests, with on-property features to learn more about hotel amenities and activities. At select properties, guests can submit requests to the concierge and housekeeping directly through the app.
    • Richer Rewards: Discover Leaders Club, LHW’s loyalty program built for curious travelers. The app offers an account profile page with access for members to check their points balance, status information, request room upgrades, and explore Leaders Club exclusive rates and perks.
    • Insider Access: Discover LHW’s entire collection of iconic global getaways at your fingertips. From hotels with Michelin-starred dining to under-the-radar hideaways, the app provides inspiration and tips for a future remarkably uncommon stay at LHW’s elite hotels.

    The Leading Hotels app is powered by INTELITY®, provider of hospitality’s leading guest experience and staff management platform. Through the app LHW’s thousands of hoteliers have access to INTELITY’s Guest Experience Management System, GEMS®, and the Content Management System to streamline staff’s day-to-day operations and manage content on the app. Further, the app will provide personalized guest service, optimize response times for guest requests, and increase staff efficiency through INTELITY’s staff-facing platform. Future enhancements to the Leading Hotels app will include mobile check-in, check-out, and keyless entry, and more.

  • 10/11/2023

    Interface Integrates i3 Cloud Video Platform with Its Monitoring Centers

    Interface securiy intervention worker

    Interface Systems, a managed service provider of business security,  has expanded its customer offering by integrating the i3 International cloud-based video management and analytics platform into its interactive Security Operations Centers (iSOCs).

    Interface iSOCs can now leverage real-time security camera feeds or access recorded footage captured by the i3 platform. The iSOC staff can easily search for video footage, gather video evidence associated with security events, verify alarm events to eliminate false alarms, and provide security escorts when customer store locations open and close. In addition, the integrated solution allows iSOC staff to access microphones and speakers deployed at customer sites to hear and speak to associates via the i3 video feeds.secure customers from their sophisticated monitoring centers.” 

    Multi-site, consumer-facing businesses such as restaurant brands that are looking to upgrade business security now have the option to deploy a powerful cloud-based AI video surveillance with data analytics, backed by advanced Interface remote monitoring intervention specialists.

    Interface will continue to expand the capabilities of its iSOC technology stack by rolling out deeper integrations with a wide range of technology solutions such as alarms, video management systems, and recording devices. The goal of these integrations is to offer customers the opportunity to extend the capabilities of their security solutions to Interface's iSOC with minimum additional effort.  

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