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 a recent demonstration in Canada is any indication, the digital vineyard of the future might very well receive scientific data in real-time gathered by drones and transferred via a cell network. Global UAV Technologies Ltd., Jöst Vineyards, VineView (Scientific Aerial Imaging Inc.) and a major Canadian telecommunications company recently completed a 4G proof-of-concept mission in in Malagash, Nova Scotia, to demonstrate a real-word application of drone technology for a project called the "Digital Vineyard of the Future." "Fine wine making is in the growing of grapes with specific qualities, where many variables have to be taken into consideration," said Jonathan Rodwell, director of viticulture and winemaking for Jöst Vineyards. "We see these emerging technologies offering excellent opportunities for integrated measurement and management of our vineyards and focus on precision viticulture." Global UAV provided a 4G-enabled, Procyon 800E helicopter drone platform with a specialized multi-spectral imaging payload.
If you were dreaming of having your next grande no-whip soy latte delivered by drone, you can forget about it. Project Wing's wings were clipped by Google parent Alphabet as it tightens budgets across the board, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, quoting people familiar with the decision. Bloomberg said the decision to end the proposed venture with Starbucks followed the departure of project leader Dave Vos, who has not been replaced. Hiring also was frozen, and some people were urged to seek employment elsewhere in the company, Bloomberg reported. The Alphabet decision comes as other companies are ramping up drone programs despite a lack of Federal Aviation Administration approval for deliveries outside test zones.
The latest Google drones have just started taking flight in the real world. But the team behind the technology is slowing down, trimming headcount and shelving initiatives as the experimental unit becomes the latest target of tightening budgets across parent company Alphabet Inc. Project Wing, a unit of Alphabet's X research lab, nixed a partnership with coffee giant Starbucks Corp., according to people familiar with the decision. Following the departure of project leader Dave Vos in October, the unit also froze hiring and began asking some staff to seek jobs elsewhere in the company, according to some of those people. They asked not to be identified speaking about private company moves. The decisions are part of a broader Alphabet effort to rein in spending and try to turn more experimental projects from loss-making risky bets into real businesses.
Inventory tracking -- that is, figuring out which products are in stock, which stock is likely to run low in the next week, and so on -- is a never-ending battle, as shoppers spend an estimated 40 billion hours picking things off store shelves. However, serial entrepreneur Richard Schwartz believes he has the answer, and it involves airborne drones with brace cages that resemble giant wiffle balls. Schwartz is the CEO and founder of Pensa Systems, an Austin startup developing a retail inventory system that taps computer vision algorithms to "understand" what's on store shelves. Pensa has already trialed its platform with Anheuser-Busch InBev -- a strategic investor -- along with several other brands and retailers in multiple countries. And at the New York Retail Federation's annual conference in New York, the company today announced that it has secured fresh capital it will put toward client acquisition.