Retail

Weird Commerce: Food Prep Robots With Chowbotics

Personalization is no longer a nice to have but a necessity for businesses to compete in today’s smart-device driven society.

From targeted advertising to instant access to a myriad of services like customer support and ride sharing services, people have become accustomed to businesses provide custom products and services to fit their lifestyles. Rather than repeat the same mundane tasks or wait around for a service, consumers have the ability to help custom order a variety of things.

While today’s consumer is sometimes too busy to make a home cooked meal every night and often resorts to ordering takeout, this company wanted to help bring people back into the kitchen. Half the time spent in cooking is for prepping the food. From dicing tomatoes to chopping bell peppers and measuring out extra virgin olive oil, the time spent doing these actions could be spent with family or relaxing after a hard day’s work.

One company that’s looking to simplify the way food is made is startup company, Chowbotics. Through realizing the amount of time spent on food prep, the company came up with the idea to develop a robot to do the work, Sally the Salad Robot. This offering comes in the form of a type of vending machine where people can custom build their salad on a touchscreen surface with fresh ingredients. We spoke with Chowbotics’ founder and CEO, Deepak Sekar, Ph.D. about how Sally the Salad Robot was created, what its plans are for partnerships as well as future endeavors.

Diving into what inspired Dr. Sekar to develop a food-making robot, he shared with us the spark that moved him to act and start his own company.

He said “I’ve always enjoyed cooking leisurely over the weekend. But on weekdays, with two kids and two hectic jobs, my wife and I found putting food on the table challenging. Moreover, I felt like I was using 20% of my time creatively, developing recipes, with 80% handling tedious, monotonous tasks. One day, I decided to build a robot that automated these repetitive tasks, allowing me to make my food-making process fun.”

Currently, Sally the Salad Robot is Chowbotics is hoping to be made available in nearly 62,000 restaurants, 37,000 supermarkets and 10,000 hotels according to the company’s website. The Chowbotics team would like to continue this growth through strategic partnerships. Dr. Sekar said “We would like to partner with the major food service management companies to provide Sally to offices, hospitals and schools around the country.”

Through these partnerships, Chowbotics would be responsible for helping to provide a more healthy option. Most of the time in these environments, the options are either fried, bland or simply not what people want. Sally would allow people to mix and match what they want from a well-known nutritious option.

While salads were the first foray into the robot food preparation arena,  there are plans in the near future to expand. Dr. Sekar said “After the launch of Sally the Salad Robot, we plan to develop robots that offer other types of cuisines such as Mexican, as well as breakfast food.”

Depending upon the logistics of a robot food prep machine including how often the food was changed out, something like Chowbotics’ Sally the Salad Robot could significantly impact daily diets and the food industry.

Moving into future plans, Dr. Sekar reiterates the company’s focus for expanding the variety of food offerings. He said “Right now, we are razor-focused on launching Sally successfully and making sure our customers are happy with the product. Following that, we will begin plans to develop robots that offer other types of cuisines.”

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