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ttemple
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American Pizza
ttemple   7/13/2012 8:19:50 AM
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Funny how history repeats itself.  Back around the mid '80's, I purchased stock in a company called "American Pizza", ticker symbol was APIZ.  They were going to have a pizza vending machine next to every Coke and Pepsi machine in the country.  I eventually wrote off that $500 when they went bust.

I obviously thought it was a great idea, but it didn't fly.  I hope the new company makes it, because I love pizza.  Anything to make easier access to one of my favorite foods is a good thing!

 

Beth Stackpole
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Re: American Pizza
Beth Stackpole   7/13/2012 9:38:23 AM
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Even though I'm not sure you'd ever convince me to buy pizza from a vending machine, no matter how fresh, this is very cool. I imagine it will sell like hot cakes in dorm rooms and on street locations near downtown bars for a late night snack. Reminds me of a machine I wrote about a few years ago called Moobella that did something similar for ice cream. I'm interested to hear what our readers have to say.

Nancy Golden
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Re: American Pizza
Nancy Golden   7/13/2012 10:35:29 AM
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I'm with you, Beth - while I am very impressed with the concept and design, I think the marketing challenge for them would be expectation and reaching their niche audience. If I am going to buy pizza (a treat that I only do occasionally) the last place I would purchase it would be a vending machine. But I agree, for college kids and for folks who want a quick late night snack, it does sound perfect.

NadineJ
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Re: American Pizza
NadineJ   7/13/2012 11:19:10 AM
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It would be intersting to know how where they are in Europe and how well they've done since 2009. 

I agree that dorms are a good place for this.  And, agreed, that these wouldn't do well in neighbourhoods in NY and San Francisco like Little Italy and North Beach.  But, it's a good idea for a cheap, quick, freshly made late night snack on the way home from work.

I'd love to see how tamper proof it is.  Since the Tylenol scandal in the 80's, everything has to be tamper-proof in the US.

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: American Pizza
Ann R. Thryft   7/13/2012 12:29:08 PM
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Tamper-proof is a great point; imagine all those hungry people smelling pizza all the time. Whatever the state-of-the-art is for security in standalone food vending machines, this machine probably needs even tighter controls.

Dave Palmer
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Platinum
Re: American Pizza
Dave Palmer   7/13/2012 12:51:32 PM
Great slideshow! It would be great if the vending machine had some kind of window so that you could watch the pizza being made.  Besides the curiosity factor (I can imagine crowds of people gathering around to watch), it would help customers to understand that this isn't just a frozen pizza being heated up in a microwave.  And, who knows, maybe watching the machine will even inspire future engineers.

That being said, as a native Chicagoan, I have to point out that this will never compete with deep-dish pizza.

naperlou
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Re: American Pizza
naperlou   7/16/2012 9:28:48 AM
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Dave, didn't you hear, deep dish is next.  I think it will take more than 3 minutes, though. 

gsmith120
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Platinum
Re: American Pizza
gsmith120   8/19/2012 6:20:09 PM
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Very interesting pizza vending machine and video.  I was wondering if the pizza will be more like what we have in America vs Italy.  My daughter said the pizza she had in Italy was different from the US.

rmorrison
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Iron
Re: American Pizza
rmorrison   7/18/2012 11:59:46 AM
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"fresh" pizza in 3 minutes when the ingredients have sat for week? Also, pizza takes 20 minutes to bake properly in a clay oven, not IR. This is disgusting.

It might work on college campus with the drunk college kids late at night who don't care what they eat or even compete with frozen pizzas, but come on, who actually eats a frozen or chain-store made pizza? None of this is pizza in the sense. Only a true hand-made pizza with fresh ingredients and baked properly is pizza, the rest are nothing more than cardboard with ketchup!

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: American Pizza
Ann R. Thryft   7/18/2012 12:46:23 PM
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I'm not much of a pizza fan, but if I eat it it's got to be fresh. So I agree with your comments about cardboard-tasting frozen pizza. Except lots of people are buying and eating frozen pizza, based on the doubling and tripling of that section in all my local grocery stores' freezer sections over the last few years.

Charles Murray
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Re: American Pizza
Charles Murray   7/23/2012 9:29:20 PM
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RMorrison, I believe the pizza machine cooks and dumps its old contents on a daily basis, so there's no worry about old ingredients. As for IR ovens versus clay, I have no idea.

dbell5
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Gold
Re: American Pizza
dbell5   8/7/2012 4:02:48 PM
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I have to disagree with rmorrison on the timing!

Pizza will bake in 90 seconds or even less, in a properly heated masonry oven.

If it takes 20 minutes, the temperature is far to low.

 

Dave

mrmikel
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Iron
Re: American Pizza
mrmikel   8/17/2012 9:43:53 AM
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Seems like I remember my wife telling me it took 7 minutes in their oven in a take it/bake it store.  That was at 700 degrees.  So 13 minutes might not be out of line for the whole process.

 

If you can flour the drum it doesn't stick anywhere near so much, so that may be how they resolve the stickiness issue.

 

If you heat anything for 7-10 minutes at 700 degrees, it may not be appealing, but there are going to be darn few germs left alive.  Most restaurant food poisoning comes from uncooked food or dirty humans handling it.

richnass
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Re: American Pizza
richnass   7/13/2012 10:45:40 AM
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Hmm. I'm not sure how that would fly in my NY neighborhood. Part of the appeal is watching the pizzamaker toss the dough. What would Tony Soprano think?

Beth Stackpole
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Re: American Pizza
Beth Stackpole   7/13/2012 12:17:54 PM
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Tony Soprano would definitely not approve and this is definitely not an option for city scapes like NYC where pizza places (and good pizza places at that) exist on nearly every corner. Interesting, though, from mechanical technology standpoint. There's a lot at play here, from the infrared oven to the machine that flattens the dough and applies the sauce (that reminded me of 3D printing technology) to a whole array of sensors.

I also remember from the Moobella piece, that there is a big maintenance aspect to these machines. Human hands may not be used to make the food or touch the ingredients, but someone has to clean these things and keep them disinfected. That's a challenge in itself.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: American Pizza
Rob Spiegel   7/13/2012 2:15:10 PM
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I agree this is interesting from a mechanical POV, Beth. But I don't believe anyone can prepare a decent pizza in three minutes. Pizza needs a decent oven and a decent amount of time for baking. The pizza at the end of the slide show does not look so wonderful. Somethings can't be quick -- or we would still be consuming Fizzies and using straws that flavor milk to chocolate or strawberry.

Chris PE
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Gold
Re: American Pizza
Chris PE   7/16/2012 9:52:02 AM
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We just love vending machines. Look at the gumball and sticker machines.They exist for 50-80 years.Look at the success of Redbox! What was wrong with Blockbusters? I actually preferred Blockbusters.But we need vending machines.It is in genes.LOL. As far as pizza goes , unless you go to "classic" Italian run pizzerias in Chicago , or New York , you don't really know what a real pizza is. All the others are pretty much the same , although some have really nasty crust and sauces.Other than that there is not much to a pizza.I have many Italian friends, so there are no chances for me to taste a pizza from a new machine.I also have  very serious doubts about hygene....but after seeing an inside of some food plants ,I think that this one can be cleaner.Let me know when you try it.

ttemple
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Platinum
There is no bad pizza
ttemple   7/13/2012 11:31:58 AM
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My philosophy is there is no bad pizza, just different pizza.  I even thought the grease soaked cardboard they served in school was good.  Different, but good.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: There is no bad pizza
Charles Murray   7/13/2012 5:56:04 PM
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I agree, ttemple. With rare exceptions, pizza is good. I would be surprised if this machine doesn't produce a good product.

GlennA
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Gold
remember the Hover-Car ?
GlennA   7/13/2012 2:52:46 PM
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Is this as 'real' as the VW Hover-Car was ?  I don't believe a machine can make a pizza 'from scratch' in 3 minutes, especially not a palatable one.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: remember the Hover-Car ?
Charles Murray   7/13/2012 3:00:18 PM
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This one is real, GlennA -- at least in the sense that the machine exists. I can't speak for how palatable it is, though. We'll have to wait until it arrives in the U.S. to find that out.

notarboca
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Gold
I can see this working
notarboca   7/13/2012 3:18:46 PM
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For a late night college snack, I can very much envision this machine as a success in dormitories everywhere.  Also airports, hospital waiting areas or anywhere you can't just pop out for a bite.


For college, an adjunct machine that verified age via a student ID card swipe and biometrics which dispensed beer would be a welcome addition for some.  :-)

Tim
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Platinum
Cool Idea
Tim   7/13/2012 11:40:01 PM
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This is a great idea and application. I could see these being located next to the Redbox machines that seem to be in every shopping plaza all of a sudden.  You could get a movie and a pizza any time you want. 

greg
User Rank
Iron
best thing ever
greg   7/14/2012 1:16:14 AM
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really, this is the best thing ive heard about in a long time.

i do like the idea of a window so you can see it being made, though. about ten years ago, i was at a Kinko's that had a coffee vending machine. you selected what you wanted, and in a window, you saw it grind whole coffee beans, dump in onto a filter that was part of a large roll, and then hot water poured right through it into your cup at the bottom. i never would have known this thing was brewing fresh-gound coffee, id have guessed it was instant. it was totally worth it just for the experience, but it was good coffee tooo.

tekochip
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Platinum
AIrports
tekochip   7/14/2012 12:32:33 PM
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It's a pretty interesting machine and there are certainly some airports that I've been to where this would have been a great option.  There seems to be a fair amount of waste, though, since each item is individually wrapped.

Droid
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Platinum
College Dorm Pizza
Droid   7/16/2012 9:26:51 AM
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Every college dorm and apartment dwelling junk food geek needs one of these within a 100 steps......

bobjengr
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Platinum
Re: College Dorm Pizza
bobjengr   7/16/2012 5:29:31 PM
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 Droid--

My thoughts exactly.   You put one of these things in a dorm lobby, or better still, each dorm floor and you will make back your investment is a heartbeat.   As long as it is maintained properly; i.e. refilled, cleaned, repaired, etc .on a regular basis, you will have a real winner.   I have no idea as to the most popular pizzas but I suspect cheese, pepperoni and veggie pizzas are the most often purchased.  At 2:00 A.M. in the morning with a mechanics final at 8:00, you can bet those all-nighters will at least investigate the possibilities.     Also, how about laundry mats, hospital waiting rooms, bus stations, train stations?  I can think of several places that would be good candidates for machines such as this.  Any place where a person has to wait would be a great candidate.   The only downer-we have such a lawless country there would be damage and repairs necessary so the selection of location would be critical to staying in business.   

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: College Dorm Pizza
Charles Murray   7/16/2012 10:02:43 PM
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I agree, bobjengr. This could be the killer food app for college campuses.

ChasChas
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Platinum
Cleaning up
ChasChas   7/16/2012 9:37:44 AM
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It would have been nice to see the cleaning and sanitizing cycle. That's probably more interesting than the pizza making cycle from the the engineers' stand point.

Nice!

marty48
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Iron
Experience with a similar machine
marty48   7/16/2012 10:54:16 AM
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I saw a similar machine called Wonder Pizza a few years ago.  It was a somewhat sleeker looking and had a smaller footprint.  We even were given sample freshly made pizzas to eat at a demo.  The taste was about the same as a frozen pizza.  Not especially good for bad but novelty of a hot fresh pizza in a couple of minutes was the concept.  No match for a pizzeria pizza.  Initial cost seemed high and there was no leasing arrangement.   The company provided all raw ingredients weekly and maintained the machine for a fee.  We liked the idea and planned to sell the pizza on at cost to employees.  Our management didn't go for it in the end.  The biggest design problem was the preparation time.  It's OK if one to three people queue up for pizza.  The last person gets their pizza in 7.5 minutes later and that's acceptable in my opinion.  When 5 or 10 people are queued up its a different story.  I think name brand high quality frozen pizza kept in an appropriate storage/display unit with a nearby bank of specialized preprogrammed microwave (with browning elements or whatever) would cost the same and solve the production and wait time issue in the same footprint with a lower initial cost, much much lower maintenence fees, lower operating costs and equivalent food cost.

OK you designers - go for it!

Dave Palmer
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Platinum
Re: Experience with a similar machine
Dave Palmer   7/16/2012 2:57:03 PM
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@marty48: I agree; 2.5 minutes seems like a short time to make a pizza, but a long time to wait for a vending machine.

How about an omelete machine? You can cook scrambled eggs in the microwave in about a minute.  Add some chopped vegetables, some cheese, and maybe some ham, and you've got yourself a meal.

marty48
User Rank
Iron
Re: Experience with a similar machine
marty48   7/16/2012 5:04:19 PM
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Excellent idea Dave!  "Cook" it in the container the eggs are served in and used prepackaged whole eggs, egg whites or egg beaters.  Santition issues always loom large but with good design it can be minimized.  Fabulous!  When do we start our market research?

Marty

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
PIzza Vending Machine
William K.   7/16/2012 10:00:00 PM
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Really, good frozen pizza can be done much quiker, and it comes out quite good. The secret is that after the thawing and heating in the microwave oven, it has to have the bottom heated for a short while on an oild griddle surface. Just enough to brown the bottom a bit. The hard part is even defrosting and thawing in the microwave oven. That takes some effort. But the heating the bottom makes such a great improvement that it can't be left out.

So if somebody uses my idea they do need to give me credit for it. And some free pizza. Royalty payments are negotiable.

apresher
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Blogger
Pizza Vending Machine
apresher   7/17/2012 2:51:34 PM
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I agree this would be a killer app for college campuses but I hope they have a thorough maintenance schedule.  Definitely not as clean of an environment inside compared to most vending machines especially if college students keep it running all night.

warren@fourward.com
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Platinum
Pizza on demand?
warren@fourward.com   7/19/2012 9:13:29 AM
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Wow!  What will the Italians come up with next?  Painting on ceilings?  Who knows?  But pizza on demand sounds great, except...

1.  Sticky things like this tend to clog up stuff.  Just ask the guys who developed the glue machines for ICs.

2.  Bugs!  Always with the bugs!  How do you keep the little critters out of the system without making them part of the protein package?

3.  Where, other than college dorms, can you place these?  Do you really want to get out of your easy chair, lug your overweight bottom down to the machine, wait 15 minutes and get your small pizza?  Or do you just want to stay with your TV, call Jabba the Pizza Hutt, and have it delivered to your door!

4.  The size must really be small to fit into this environment.  Since size matters when it comes to cost, is it really worth it?

I bet on a Navy ship, it would sell like French fries!  I would have camped out in front of it!

Good luck, Pizza King!

Jack Rupert, PE
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Platinum
Re: Pizza on demand?
Jack Rupert, PE   7/20/2012 3:12:34 PM
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I was thinking it was a good idea until I got to #1 and #2 of your post, Warren.  I would think that those things would be a maintenance nightmare.  In addition, how do you contend with spoilage?  It can mix the dough and toss it after 24 hours, but what about everything else.  It's not like the toppings and all have a finite life that can be calculated. 

Scott Orlosky
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Platinum
Re: Pizza on demand?
Scott Orlosky   7/22/2012 7:51:39 PM
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Somehow I don't think the denizens of college dorms are the most discerning consumers of pizza in the world. With the complexity, maintenance and hygenic issues I have to admire the engineering challenge, but I'll stick to my take-and-bake.

robatnorcross
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Gold
Re: Scott O.
robatnorcross   7/31/2012 8:19:25 PM
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Actually college students SHOULD be very good pizza judges since they probably consume more pizza per year than any other species. My guess is after a few beers they would tend to pick up a piece off the floor and eat it. After all the alcohol in the beer should kill the germs.

Tool_maker
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Platinum
Re: Pizza on demand?
Tool_maker   8/16/2012 12:58:25 PM
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Where else etc? My first thought was an Army barracks. I think your point about bugs is the key issue. The day after the pizza vendor is installed is the first day a lawsuit will be filed for food poisoning. Cleanliness will always trump anything when it comes to preparing and serving food.

But the slide show is neat.

Corona Rich
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Iron
Single Serve
Corona Rich   10/26/2012 9:40:23 AM
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Of course, the first thing I thought about was spoilage, insects and sanitation.  Well, I guess that's a lot of things.  But if the ingredients were in single serve containers, this could be mitigated.

I agree with Chris PE's comment about vending machines being in our blood!  I remember a vending machine that would actually make a little blow-molded figure right in front of your eyes!  Amazing!  I still remember the aroma of the warm, waxy plastic they used.

Jim_E
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Platinum
I'm still waiting to see one of these machines
Jim_E   6/21/2013 8:54:11 AM
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I'm still waiting to see one of these machines in the real world.  Has anyone seen one yet in person? 

I'd love for there to be one in our work cafeteria!

 

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: I'm still waiting to see one of these machines
Charles Murray   6/21/2013 11:34:02 AM
I've yet to see one, Jim_E. Sounds like it's time to check with the manufacturer on this. Thanks for the reminder.

Jim_E
User Rank
Platinum
Re: I'm still waiting to see one of these machines
Jim_E   8/19/2013 8:32:11 AM
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Of all places to see an update, there was a thread last week on Reddit that had people from around the world talking about the "Let's Pizza" machine.  Apparently there are some machines in the USA (I think they said at an amusement park) but most of the feedback was from Europe.

I'd post a link, but I don't want my monitored web history at work to show that I'm browing Reddit during the day....  :)

 

Bunter
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Platinum
Just the beginning
Bunter   6/21/2013 10:31:59 AM
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I have been expecting this type of thing for awhile.  Engineers are driven, from the first shovel on, to find ways to ease/eliminate menial tasks.  I have noticed fastfood places are seeing an increase in more automated devices.

How soon will we see a burger/fry/drink combo packaged to your order all by machine?

Will you order it from your phone and pick it up in 3-5 minutes?

Will this, to a degree, impact the traditional fast food vendors?

Human nature stives in this direction anyway but with the beneficent govt making every effort to increase the cost of employing real people this will accelerate.  IMO.

Just some thoughts.

Dennis



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