As restaurants look ahead to reopening after the novel coronavirus pandemic, they will need to maximize productivity, maintain food safety, and protect the health of both employees and customers. Miso Robotics Inc. today announced a partnership with PathSpot Technologies Inc. in which PathSpot’s hand-scanning device will be integrated into Miso’s Flippy kitchen assistant.
“Flippy is certified by NSF International, and our autonomous design promotes social distancing needs and decreases human contact during the food prep process,” stated Buck Jordan, CEO of Miso Robotics. “PathSpot’s hand-scanning devices, paired with Flippy, take things one step further in reducing food contamination, giving consumers and workers the confidence needed to reignite takeout and delivery, while giving restaurants a way to attract customers back to their locations.”
“We are providing solutions that operators need today for the ‘new normal,'” said Ryan Sinnet, co-founder and chief technology officer at Miso Robotics. “Operating a restaurant was hard enough to begin with, with labor shortages, demand for prepared food growing, and slim profit margins. Now, they must implement social distancing while also increasing throughput in kitchens, and it’s not clear how long the pandemic will last or if there will be a resurgence.”
Miso Robotics teams up to reduce touch points
In January 2020, Miso Robotics announced a prototype of Flippy mounted as a Robot on a Rail (ROAR) so the automated fryer could be used in commercial kitchens. In March, Miso partner Cali Group added PopID’s facial recognition, contactless payment, and thermal sensors for detecting COVID-19 symptoms to its CaliBurger restaurants.
“A key aspect of our technology is that ROAR is designed to fit into existing kitchens and work with human workers,” Sinnet told The Robot Report. “Flippy can help keep track of cooking times and reduce touch points for contamination, elevating food safety. Our customers are asking for as much food safety as possible.”
PathSpot’s scanner, which is also certified by product tester NSF (National Sanitation Foundation), can scan an employee’s hands in two seconds to determine whether pathogens are present. It can immediately tell the food-service worker to rewash and rescan if necessary, and it can also provide data to managers.
“While we’re fortunate that COVID-19 isn’t transmitted through food, with globalization, we expect restaurants to need more robots to create robustness,” said Sinnet. “According to the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration], about 73% of hand washing in restaurants fails to meet hygiene standards. With PathSpot’s scanner, there was a 97% reduction after six months of use.”
“I’ve talked to a lot of food-service workers, and almost everybody wants to do a good job and not put themselves or anybody else at risk,” he added. “Three years ago, we asked whether people would want to eat food cooked by robots. Now, that’s not really an issue.”
Bundled offerings coming soon
Pasadena, Calif.-based Miso plans to bundle PathSpot’s scanner into its systems, which Sinnet said would be available later this year. “We looked at food safety from different directions, so it was good synergy,” he said.
“PathSpot’s commitment to advancing healthy and preventative practices in public spaces made Miso Robotics a natural choice for partnership,” said Christine Schindler, co-founder and CEO of PathSpot. “Together, we believe we can succeed in our mission to create a safer future-kitchen design.”
“We’ll be doing a phased rollout, starting with bringing PathSpot into existing hand-washing procedures,” Sinnet said. “We’ll put PathSpot’s scanners near Flippy ROAR’s touchscreens and maybe sinks.”
“This is not our first move to develop the technology stack for food safety, but we’re excited to be helping to create industry standards for artificial intelligence and robots in kitchens,” Sinnet said. “We’re cross-bundling these systems, and over time, we want to leverage AI and machine vision and build them into our system.”
Miso Robotics, which launched a crowdfunding campaign last year, is also considering other partnerships, said Sinnet. “We’ve gotten interest from major restaurant chains about combined service offerings. All these devices can communicate over Wi-Fi,” he said. “We work with bigger customers to integrate Flippy with other equipment and their workflows for maximum efficiency and safety.”