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A Look Ahead June 6, 2016

Week in Review
June 11, 2016 10:00 AM

robot fast food workerSoon, when restaurant-goers hear “May I take your order?” those words may be coming from a robot.  Some restaurants have started experimenting with human-like robots instead of human cashiers, allowing consumers to pay for their meals without interacting with another person. Although many restaurants have allowed digital ordering, either online, by kiosk or on tablets at the table, the practice of using humanoid, or human-like robots, is still in its earliest stages, and it’s primarily happening in Asia so far. Experts say the robots could benefit restaurants and lead to wider adoption — if diners aren’t too freaked out by them.  
An army of robots is on the move. In warehouses, hospitals and retail stores, and on city streets, industrial parks and the footpaths of college campuses, the first representatives of this new invading force are starting to become apparent.  The arrival of the robots — and their potentially devastating effect on human employment — has been widely predicted. Now, the machines are starting to roll or walk out of the labs. In the process, they are about to tip off a financing boom as robotics — and artificial intelligence — becomes one of the hottest new markets in tech.  After growing at a compound rate of 17 per cent a year, the robot market will be worth $135 billion by 2019, according to IDC, a tech research firm.

It started with bacon, eggs and coffee.  Seeing sales of the breakfast staples take off at other times of day, packaged-food marketers want to see if they can convince us to eat their breakfast items for lunch, snacks, dinner and dessert, too.  They are packaging and marketing oatmeal for lunch or dinner and yogurt for dinner or dessert. The movable feast aims to boost sales of familiar foods by expanding when and how they are eaten.  Evidence is mounting that consumers are increasingly agnostic about assigning foods to specific times of day. Consumers are increasingly eating yogurt, cereal, bagels, oatmeal and baked goods as snacks, according to market researcher Packaged Facts.  

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