Smart Vending Machines Will Dispense Locally Sourced Food and Drinks

Vending machines are awesome! For a few coins or dollars, you can quickly buy just about anything from a can of Coca-Cola to random used books or even Holy Water. Now a new California-based startup called Byte Foods is looking to reinvent vending machine food by keeping theirs fully stocked with fresh, healthy, locally sourced food and drinks, according to TechCrunch.

Internet-connected vending machines aren’t new, but Byte is taking the next step forward by adding RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology and smart analytics software. Byte’s vending machines—which are filled with mostly organic beverages, iced coffee, sandwiches, soups, salads, and even burritos—look like the refrigerated displays and kiosks you’d find at any convenience store, only the units are locked and come with a touchscreen menu with a list of item descriptions and pricing. When you’re ready to buy, simply swipe your credit card through the reader and just take your items and go.

Each item features an RFID tag, so you can take as many items as you’d like once you’re inside the unit. If you change your mind, simply put the items back and you won’t be charged; your credit card will only be billed after you close the door. The vending machines also feature software that allows vendors to know which items are proving to be particularly popular and are in danger of becoming out of stock for a faster turnaround. It also features surge and dynamic pricing on items that are in demand or products that are about to spoil.

“Byte is fine tuning their food offering and variety, which is important in attracting repeat customers,” Jin Park, a Byte Foods board member, told TechCrunch. “There are many opportunities here to partner with various local food providers. One key revenue driver will be expanding the number of refrigerators.”

Byte Foods just raised $5.5 million in seed funding and plans to add more smart vending machines in offices, hotels, college campuses, and hospitals around the San Francisco Bay Area before expanding to new regions in 2017.

[h/t TechCrunch]

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Netflix's Most-Binged Shows of 2017, Ranked

Netflix might know your TV habits better than you do. Recently, the entertainment company's normally tight-lipped number-crunchers looked at user data collected between November 1, 2016 and November 1, 2017 to see which series people were powering through and which ones they were digesting more slowly. By analyzing members’ average daily viewing habits, they were able to determine which programs were more likely to be “binged” (or watched for more than two hours per day) and which were more often “savored” (or watched for less than two hours per day) by viewers.

They found that the highest number of Netflix bingers glutted themselves on the true crime parody American Vandal, followed by the Brazilian sci-fi series 3%, and the drama-mystery 13 Reasons Why. Other shows that had viewers glued to the couch in 2017 included Anne with an E, the Canadian series based on L. M. Montgomery's 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables, and the live-action Archie comics-inspired Riverdale.

In contrast, TV shows that viewers enjoyed more slowly included the Emmy-winning drama The Crown, followed by Big Mouth, Neo Yokio, A Series of Unfortunate Events, GLOW, Friends from College, and Ozark.

There's a dark side to this data, though: While the company isn't around to judge your sweatpants and the chip crumbs stuck to your couch, Netflix is privy to even your most embarrassing viewing habits. The company recently used this info to publicly call out a small group of users who turned their binges into full-fledged benders:

Oh, and if you're the one person in Antarctica binging Shameless, the streaming giant just outed you, too.

Netflix broke down their full findings in the infographic below and, Big Brother vibes aside, the data is pretty fascinating. It even includes survey data on which shows prompted viewers to “Netflix cheat” on their significant others and which shows were enjoyed by the entire family.

Netflix infographic "The Year in Bingeing"


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