Restaurants Using Mobile Apps and Payment Services to Increase Sales...

As consumers increasingly veer towards the use of mobile phones and apps to make everyday purchases, restaurants and food delivery services are hoping to cash in on the trend with streamlined options for food orders and payments. A new study from the Application Resource Center suggests that chain restaurants with the best mobile app designs are more likely to garner higher sales per order. A Taco Bell customer who orders through the restaurant’s app, for example, is likely to spend 20% more than one waiting in line at the drive-thru or retail counter. The ARC ranked the 55 top restaurant apps in terms of design quality, usability, and customer engagement. “The brands that supported loyalty programs, digital coupons, mobile payments — those tended to score considerably higher than the rest,” said Ben Gray, a Digital Experience Analyst with ARC parent company, Applause. Among the top-ranked brands were Taco Bell, Domino’s, Starbucks, and Pizza Hut. Mobile app purchases accounted for 21% of Starbucks’ total transactions in the first quarter of 2016, and 50% of all internet users today say their phone is their principal browsing device. “I think that’s the future of this industry,” Gray said. It’s not just big chains that can benefit from the mobile trend, either. Food takeout and delivery website GrubHub, which recently merged with similar platform Seamless, announced earlier this month that it would be adding Apple Pay to its list of payment options for food orders. “We’re always looking for ways to make it easier for our diners to find and order the type of food they want, when they want it, from their favorite local restaurants,” said Sudev Balakrishnan, senior vice president of product for Grubhub, in a press release. “We’re thrilled to bring the ease of use...

Microsoft Dips Into the Cannabis Industry...

Computer software behemoth Microsoft announced last week that it will begin a new partnership with Kind Financial, a Los Angeles-based startup focused on providing regulation software for the burgeoning marijuana industry. Kind Financial provides “seed to sale” tracking of cannabis for producers, distributors, and government officials to help streamline compliance with state regulations. “It’s software that enables regulators, in real time, to know where and how much marijuana is being grown, sold or produced,” founder and chief executive of Kind, David Dinenberg, explained to the Los Angeles Times. “We’re providing real-time inventory all over their state and information on how much sales tax or other tax they should be collecting.” Since fall 2015, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, with Pennsylvania and Ohio having since joined their ranks. Recreational use of marijuana is now legal in four states: Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, and the home state of Microsoft’s own headquarters, Washington. Five more states, including California, will vote on recreational legalization this upcoming fall. The partnership with Microsoft not only gives Kind Financial access to the corporation’s sales departments and Washington lobbyists, it lends them a much-needed air of respectability in the still-murky waters of the marijuana trade industry. “Every business that works in the cannabis space, we all clamor for legitimacy,” Dinenberg said. “I would like to think that this is the first of many dominoes to fall.” As for Microsoft, Kind’s software will become a component of their Azure Government cloud-computing program, part of the company’s increasing efforts to diversify beyond personal desktop applications. “This is an entirely new field for us,” Kimberly Nelson, the executive director of state and local government solutions at Microsoft, told the New York Times. “We do think there will be...

JC Penney Has Had the Secret to Clean Cooling Energy for Centuries...

Ice is being used for more than chilling your drinks these days. Using ice storage technology from CALMAC, a global leader in energy storage, JC Penney has been cooling off efficiently for a quarter century. Energy Manger Today cites that by adopting this approach to air conditioning, the retailer saved an average of $100,000 at its Plano, TX, headquarters. “Ice storage is a tool for dramatically reducing peak demand, which is the utilities’ real problem, while possibly also saving energy,” wrote CALMAC CEO Mark MacCracken in response to emailed questions from Energy Manager Today. “The energy savings vary by installation application. One way it saves energy is it shifts usage to nighttime generation which in most areas of the country is much more.” The technology works by freezing water at night, then using that ice during the day for various cooling operations. Storing energy during off-peak hours results in energy that is cleaner and more efficient when used during peak hours. While the market for this kind of technology is not big at the moment, it is significantly growing. Transparency Market Research estimated that the market would increase profits from $600 million in 2013 to $1.8 billion by 2020. Researchers at CALMAC are not the only ones looking to improve how we will be cooling off in summer months. Researchers at Arizona State University are working to develop new technology to help lower the cost of air conditioning. The researcher was funded by the Department of Energy. According to Fox News, the Department of Energy gave a group of researchers $2 million to improve the energy efficiency of single pane windows, which are not known to be as energy efficient. Homeowners can spend thousands replacing them as about a third of the homes in...

Facebook Releases DeepText Technology, Gives Other Search Engines a Run for Their Money...

A whopping majority — over 80% — of Internet users type search phrases into search engines to find information. But now, Facebook is hoping to enter into the world of search engines with the implementation of their DeepText. Described as a deep-learning based text understanding engine, the goal of Facebook’s DeepText is to provide almost human accuracy to the process of sorting through all the social media posts on its platform. This system is able to understand the textual accuracy of several thousand post per second, in over 20 different languages. The company also hopes to expand the system’s natural language processing (NLP) abilities, as these are typically confused by slang. That means Facebook is developing a search engine that will understand acronyms and phrases like “LOL,” “OMG,” “BTW,” and “bro.” This word-embedding software is also able to understand and compare similar semantics across different languages. For example, Facebook will learn to recognize “feliz cumpleanos” and “happy birthday” as having the same meaning. As reported on Enterprise Tech, the Facebook researchers explained the importance of this technology in a statement posted on their website: “Text understanding on Facebook requires solving tricky scaling and language challenges where traditional NLP techniques are not effective. Using deep learning, we are able to understand text better across multiple languages and use labeled data much more efficiently than traditional NLP techniques.” DeepText also promotes text understanding, which will help filter out unrelated news stories on the Facebook News section of the site. It will also determine a general classification of what the search is about and then provide relevant information that the user could be interested in. Take the word “basketball.” If a user was to search for a particular basketball team on Facebook’s search engine, DeepText would recognize...

New Medical Technology May Boost Survival Rate of Gunshot Victims...

Gunshot wounds are getting deadlier as weapons and ammunition get stronger, but there is new technology helping surgeons save these victims. While it is difficult to prepare for a mass casualty event, trauma surgeons are trained to handle it. However, with stronger weapons come more severe injuries. “With higher velocity bullets, it transfers more energy to the tissue, there’s more tissue damage, more bleeding and when you have more bullets then yeah they’re more severe,” said Dr. David Ciesla, director of the trauma program at Tampa General Hospital. “The guns themselves have higher-capacity magazines so people come in with more wounds, more gunshots than they used to,” Ciesla continued. The tragedy in Orlando this month has given medical professionals a vivid and jarring reminder of the damage that guns can do. “It’s almost like time stopped,” Dr. Joshua Stephany, a medical examiner in Orlando, told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Wednesday in his first media interview since the incident. “TVs were playing in the background; strobe lights were blinking; drinks had just been poured, food half-eaten, checks about to be paid. It was truly like time stood still.” More than 60% of cell phone owners find themselves checking for notifications even if their phone isn’t ringing or vibrating, but for doctors in the Orlando area this weekend, the ringing was non-stop. At Tampa General Hospital, physicians are seeing fewer gunshot victims than they used to, but the wounds do tend to be more severe. The good news: new technology is helping increase the survival rate of those patients. “A lot of these innovations have come from battlefield casualties, what the military medics and surgeons have learned, you know, in times of war,” said Ciesla. The most important of these innovations was...