Eatsa Is Helping Humans and Robots Work and Eat Together in Harmony
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Eatsa has had a bit of a bumpy ride over the years. After initial success prompted an overly-ambitious expansion, it dropped from six locations down to two in the space of a year and began selling its automated restaurant concept as a franchise soon after.
However, Eatsa is coming back with style - and some philosophical ideas about the relationship between automated and human employees, and the fun its platform can instill into the dining experience.
The Human Side of Automation
Robotics has seriously evolved in recent years, transforming from the stuff of science fiction and fantasy stories to trade show curiosities and finally to an ever-present part of daily life. Rarely a day goes by that we don't hear about some new robotic innovation, including self-driving vehicles, Industry 4.0 factories, and automated store assistants in the news. It seems likely the pattern is going to continue far into the future.
(Image source: eatsa.com)
The Eatsa experience lets people order their food from a mobile app or from the tablets installed in restaurants, then collect their freshly-prepared meal from a cubby in the wall - never once interacting with a human member of staff unless they choose to. The brand focusses on fast, healthy, casual dishes, such as salads and rice-based meals.
Since its inception, Eatsa has evolved from a restaurant concept to a platform provider, helping other brands bring the power of automation to their restaurants to reduce employee turnaround, order queues, and pickup times, and to increase overall customer and employee happiness. However, while its automated service is Eatsa's unique selling proposition, the company thinks it's crucial to never lose sight of the human element of business and the ways robotics can create a better environment for them.
While robotics has the power to bring faster store throughput, increased ROI for partners, and improved customer experiences, it can also benefit staff. Automated systems taking care of elements of the work can help to reduce stress in employees. Food preparation also becomes more ergonomic with robotics, which makes for fewer workplace accidents and a safer environment for all. On top of this, systems which can respond intuitively are easier to operate and have a gentler learning curve, allowing staff from a broad range of cultural and technical backgrounds to use them, diversifying the restaurant's employee base in kind.
"Striving to facilitate human-machine symbiosis and enhance the capabilities of both machine and human must be an essential part of the product development cycle," writes Mechanical Engineer and "Mother of Robots" at Eatsa, Nora Naranjo. "Resourceful Design and Engineering teams will thrive on the challenge to create a real human-centric system and build systems that will enhance the productivity and performance of both business and worker alike."
What About the Customers?
While creating a happy and safe working environment for its employees should be a priority for any brand, it's the customers which keep the lights on, so it's important not to leave them out in the cold. Eatsa has things covered in that regard as well.
Personalization is at the core of creating a fun experience for Eatsa customers. Guests' names are displayed on their designated cubby to show them where their food will be arriving. While they are waiting, they are treated to unique animations on the cubby screens to keep them entertained, and when their food is ready, they double tap the cubby to open the door to retrieve it.
Customers are also actively encouraged to take photos of their food and cubbies and share them to their social media accounts, all adding to the fun of the Eatsa dining experience, while also offering some great promotional opportunities for the brand itself.
"Whether it's a customer's first time or hundredth time visiting Eatsa, we continually hear the word 'magic' when customers describe the experience," said Eatsa CEO, Tim Young. "We especially enjoy watching guests take videos and photos of themselves picking up their orders from the cubbies and posting to social media. We believe if it's worth a social media post, it's definitely resonating with people in a fun way."
Robotics isn't going anywhere, and we can expect it to become more ubiquitous in our shopping and dining experiences in the future. It's great to see brands such as Eatsa finding new ways to bring people and technology together, on both sides of the counter.
"Automation isn't about replacing jobs, it's about creating happier employees," said Young. "Automating more repetitive aspects of restaurant employees' roles frees up front-of-house team members for higher-touch customer engagement and makes food preparation more ergonomic, reducing the risk of work-related injuries as well as stress, leading to happier more engaged employees and less turnover."
Robotics is set to be a hot topic at Future Stores Seattle 2019, taking place June 5 – 7.
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