12 New Technologies that May Impact the Grocery Industry
By: Doug Baker, Vice President Industry Relations-Private Brands, Technology, Food Marketing Institute
Last month, a group of FMI members chalked up more than eight miles on our Fitbits when we spent a day winding our way around all the latest consumer technology trends at International CES in Las Vegas (see the related post).
Our cameras snapped away as we captured innovations that could impact the food retail industry. Here are a dozen technologies we found—in no particular order—that you might find useful or relevant, including a few you might even like personally (click
on the images to make them larger):
1. Smart appliances remain in the spotlight with manufacturers focusing ontouchscreen refrigerators, door-in-a-door compartments and, of course, the capability to use a touchscreen to know what’s inside the fridge without even opening it. We saw manufacturers connecting with Amazon’s Alexa voice controls and apps like this one in the Bosch booth that provide smart inventory options with back and front interior cameras connecting to consumer.
2. We’re not exactly sure how this consumer proof of presence process works, but Pop&link won a CES Innovations Award for being the first Internet of Things (IoT) device that can connect customers to social media reviews while they are in your store or restaurant. Without an app, the device enables a push-and-pull communication channel. Pop&link is a patented tool that lets your customers tap the Link device with their smartphone to access “on-demand” information whenever and wherever they want.
3. Just when you thought flat-panel TVs couldn’t get any thinner, lighter or better-looking, LG throws a TV so thin it’s like a poster into the mix. The all-new LG W7 OLED, which needs to be hung on a wall for firmness, is only as thick as a couple of coins stacked together: Guaranteed to blow your shoppers’ minds.
4. Start-up FreshAlley.com caught our eye with a product-agnostic vending machine that you can fill up with different fresh prepared items, of any shape or size, every day. Supported by a consumer mobile app and built on IoT principles, FreshAlley leverages RFID, Bluetooth, NFC and real-time analytics to create a cloud-based smart vending technology platform that both offers an optimum user experience and optimizes the supply chain for retailers and vending operators.
5. The OPCOM Farm GrowBox is a hydroponics grow system that can be personal in size or can use cargo-sized grow boxes and walls that connect to water and lights to support indoor gardening systems allowing anybody to grow their favorite vegetables, herbs, sprouts and fruits inside their own home or store.
6. What if your team members and customers could recharge their electronic devices simply by walking around your store? Try the portable power in a ceiling tile that was a Best of CES Innovations Award winner. Cota Tile by Ossia delivers wireless power without plugs and pads. By simply replacing a standard ceiling tile, Cota Tile can charge electronic devices from as far as 30 feet away.
7. Yes, a two-sided thin television. LG put one TV on the back of another TV. Whatcould you do with that in your store?
8. If you like using a Keurig machine to brew your own coffee, you’ll want the PicoBrew machine to create your very own craft beer brewery. Working just like a Keurig, but with larger inserts, this allows consumers to choose their hops from their favorite craft brewery and brew up to five liters of fresh craft beer at home. What’s more, with the CES discount code #Pico200, you can save $200 and get your own machine for $599 (hops not included).
9. Are your customers crazy about cold-pressed juices? Then you’re in luck: We saw this machine cranking down whole pieces of fruit without precutting with its 3-inch wide feed chute. The Kuvings Whole Elite Juicer employs a heavy-duty motor to extract the maximum amount of juice from fruits, vegetables and herbs.
10. 3D Holograms in the air! Talk about product promotions of the future. Using the Kino-mo device you can plug in the visuals, turn it on and have a show stopping product promotion in your store. Hi-tech smart visual technologies with many applications seem to be working with global brands to catch consumer attention.
11. We saw a whole new wave of wearables at CES with smart clothing, tapping into the health and wellness market. Xenoma’s “e-skin” is a black zip-up jacket that monitors your breathing, motion, body temperature and posture. Yes, posture! Looking for some extra protection when you’re on your bicycle? Check out this airbag vest that inflates on impact to give you extra bounce and more collarbone protection.
12. Finally, there was the June smart oven, which applies artificial intelligence technology to cook, toast, broil or bake almost anything. The smart oven can identify the food you place in it, suggest the best technique for cooking, test whether it’s ready with a built-in thermometer and allow you to keep an eye on what’s going on with an HD camera. You don’t have to be in the kitchen, or even at home: You can manage the stove from your mobile device and a downloadable app.
13. Baker’s Dozen Bonus! As an afternoon treat, we found FroBot which is an ecommerce-enabled self serving frozen yogurt machine— enjoy!