The next time you call room service for extra towels, your order may be delivered by a robot. It might not be able to change your sheets, but Savioke's Relay hospitality robot can bring everything from toothpaste to Starbucks, and it uses Wi-Fi and 3D cameras to navigate. The robot is already being used by some hotels in the US, and with recent funding of $15 million, autonomous butlers could soon become a lot more popular. The next time you call room service for a new tube of toothpaste, your order may be delivered by a robot. It might not be able to change your sheets, but Savioke's Relay hospitality robot can bring everything from clean towels to Starbucks, and it uses Wi-Fi and 3D cameras to navigate Each of the Relay robots stands roughly three feet tall.
Over the past few years the CES trade show has become a familiar post-holidays pilgrimage for many of the country's biggest marketers. They see the event as a way to get a sneak peek at the latest tech gadgets and technologies that can help them engage with their customers. This year marketing executives from companies such as Coca-Cola, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Campbell Soup and PepsiCo Inc. made their way to Las Vegas for the gathering. The convention was jam-packed with everything from self-driving cars to robots that play chess to Procter & Gamble's air-freshener spray that can connect with Alphabet Inc.'s Nest home to automatically release pleasant scents in the home. But there was one category that seemed to especially win over marketers: virtual assistants.
Editor's Note: Tech Tracker looks at different technologies that are disrupting the industry and changing the way restaurants operate and interact with customers. Through a partnership with online reservation platform Resy, several critically acclaimed and buzzworthy restaurants across the country are hosting "Off Menu Week" throughout the year starting in late February. Off Menu Week was designed as an alternative to traditional restaurant weeks, which occur in various cities throughout the year. Off Menu Week, by contrast, celebrates experimentation and risk. "As diners, we crave connection to the creative people behind our favorite restaurants. We thought, let's throw out the dated premise of restaurant week and bring to life a program that's fundamentally about that connection and creativity," Resy co-founder and CEO Ben Leventhal said in a statement.
If you observe Lent, which began this past week, this mightn't be the best time to read stories about excellent California wine or new restaurants with elaborate menus. On the other hand, you'll need to live vicariously -- and plan for all the food and drink you'll be able to enjoy again soon. So we have a story about the lovely Cabernets of the Alexander Valley and a new restaurant featuring Middle Eastern-ish cuisine. Of course, if you're not the sort of person who gives up anything, that's all the more reason to head to Kismet, the subject of Jonathan Gold's latest review. Although, really, who gives up vegetable-intensive small plates or plates of crispy rice anyway?
Difficult as it may be to remember now, there was a time when planning a vacation meant calling a travel agent. These professionals served as an intermediary between travelers and hotels, airlines and so on, taking vague notions ("We'd like to do two weeks across Europe") and turning them into itineraries. But over the past 15 years or so, do-it-yourself websites like Orbitz and Airbnb have empowered vacationers to pick their own accommodations, making travel agents increasingly unnecessary. The U.S. Department of Labor warns that the employment of travel agents is set to drop 12% by 2024, thanks largely to "the ability of travelers to use the Internet to research vacations and book their own trip." Those DIY sites have given rise to a new problem: too much choice.