A small study shows that adults age 75 or older living in independent living facilities or alone reported feeling less lonely after four weeks of using Alexa on the Amazon Echo. "Adaptability, usefulness, enjoyment, sociability, perceived behavioral control and companionship are the variables that most indicate human acceptance of social robots, and [personal voice assistants] are designed to exhibit all of these characteristics," researchers wrote in their findings.
Microsoft's recent $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard and Netflix's commitment to up its gaming ante with the licensing of original titles suggest that more tech companies are recognizing the potential behind gaming, writes Alex Sherman. "When mobile gaming is world leading, and we're some of the best producers, like where we are in film today, having two of the top ten, then you should ask what's next," says Reed Hastings, Netflix co-CEO.
Gamers and gaming developers are still trying to reconcile the use and value of nonfungible tokens in gaming, with some using them as blockchain assets and others as digital goods, writes Julian Dossett. Though gaming executives at Microsoft and Steam have voiced some doubt for the integration, Dossett asserts the future of NFTs will be determined by players and the market.
Denver-based virtual restaurant company Nextbite offers restaurants with excess kitchen capacity the ability to boost revenue through licensing agreements with the company's 20 delivery-only brands. Chinese food and pizza continue to prove particularly popular, CEO Alex Canter said, along with breakfast sandwiches and tacos.
As CEO of White Castle, the iconic chain founded by her great-grandfather, Lisa Ingram has used her experience in the technology industry to embrace cutting-edge tools like Flippy the fry-making robot and Julia, the digital voice assistant at the drive-thru. "I'm always looking at tech to help us continue to be relevant, but the tech industry is a lot like the restaurant industry -- both are ever evolving," said Ingram, who is one of five nominees for Restaurant Business Restaurant Leader of the Year.
Artificial intelligence will play a key role in the transformation of the restaurant industry over the next decade as automation takes on greater importance, writes Nandini Roy Choudhury of Future Market Insights. Choudhury envisions a day when autonomous vehicles transport consumers to automated drive-thrus and kiosks take and process orders using facial recognition software.
The rise in digital restaurant technology and innovation in off-premises dining have surged in recent years, and restaurants should invest in making their digital storefronts a true reflection of their brands, Lunchbox co-founder and CEO Nabeel Alamgir said. "It is about expanding your culture and your brand...We're going to allow you to do that and continue to do that as we move to a new digital world of off-premises," said Alamgir, who is one of 50 restaurant industry leaders on the Nation's Restaurant News 2022 Power List.
A growing number of plant-based protein companies are working to bring products that mimic whole cuts of meat to market, including Impossible Foods and startups such as Novameat and Juicy Marbles. Other plant-based trends to look out for this year include the rise of meat alternatives made from fungi, cleaner ingredient labels and plant-based seafood alternatives.
Investment in cultured meat ventures soared to approximately $2 billion over the past two years, according to Crunchbase, as companies and consumers continue to seek alternatives to traditional animal agriculture. Eat Just was the first company to win regulatory approval for lab-grown chicken in Singapore, and the company and others are working to scale production of meat made from animal cells to bring down costs.
Robomart has won a patent for its app, which is designed to let users tap to request a visit from a mobile store. The system has been tested in West Hollywood, Calif., and could expand to more of Los Angeles this year; it rents vans to merchants to create their own mobile shops, staffs the shops, and handles mobile ordering and checkout.
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