October 30, 2013
Human interactions more precious as automation advances
Although it’s not commercially available yet, if you want an extra shot of espresso with five drops of milk, a pump of vanilla and a dash of cinnamon, an automated barista can be programmed to give you those options. Briggo’s Coffee Haus is a sophisticated coffee vending machine, equipped with fresh milk and other ingredients, that promises a perfect cup personalized to the drinker’s specifications.
Press reports have carried headlines like “An army of robot baristas could mean the end of Starbucks as we know it.” While Starbucks hasn’t actually announced an intention to use the system, machines, robots and other tech tools are removing more and more forms of human service, from automated checkout in stores to restaurants where patrons order from tablets at their table. As a result, consumers will become willing to pay a premium to have human-to-human service.
Automated processes can guarantee quality, speed and simplicity—but at the end of the day, is that what we actually want? Many consumers would be willing to spend a little more to walk into the neighborhood coffee shop for a good but imperfect coffee and a smile. Face-to-face interactions between apparent strangers help maintain sanity in a digital world where we interact mostly with our social networks.
Image credit: bobbyh_80