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Robowaiters Threaten Restaurant Jobs

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by Frances Bloomfield, NewsTarget

“Imagine a world where you walk into a restaurant and you never have to pay tip again,” began Sharon Gai, a designer at the Disrupt NYC Hackathon — an event where developers and engineers had 24 hours to build a new product. Flanked by her teammates, Nina Yang and Irvin Cardenas, Yang continued: “Well if your waiter is a robot, you don’t have to.”

Inspired by a waiter who took too long to take her order, Yang, Gai, and Cardenas came up with an unorthodox solution to this problem: RoboWaiter. The automated server worked via an app powered by IBM’s Watson, a question-answering computer system composed of artificial intelligence (AI) analytical software. The app was then connected to a “backend ordering platform” that could also control the RoboWaiter to deliver food.

The process of utilizing RoboWaiter would be simple. According to the group, a customer would download the app, select their seat in the restaurant, then voice their order from the menu. The system would send the order to the kitchen so that the chef could prepare it. Finally, the chef would place the order onto the robot, and the robot in turn would bring the customer’s order to their table. Gai said that the experience with RoboWaiter would be as though each customer had their own personal waiter, since all a customer would have to do is place their phone near their mouth and state their order.

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