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Google Launches SOS Alert Feature

Google has announced that it will include an SOS Alert feature on its popular Google Maps service providing users with accurate and timely notifications regarding nearby catastrophes.

If nearby, Google will present links to official alerts, tweets from first responders on the scene, and useful short phrases in the local language.

According to the Express, Google Maps will host up-to-date information about terrorist attacks, unfolding natural disasters, and other crisis within close proximity to the user.

Handsets will receive regular updates from local authorities, news reports, emergency telephone numbers and other useful information to aid those in trouble. Google’s SOS Alerts will automatically trigger notifications to those who are in affected areas just by pinpointing the handset’s GPS coordinates.

Experts say the new facility is an excellent idea that could save lives. Like Facebook’s Safety Check feature, SOS Alerts go one step further by supplying users with all the information they need to avoid an incident or help pull them through the aftermath.

SOS tools have become a useful addition to several apps recently. Community Help was introduced to Facebook earlier this year, which allows users to offer help or shelter to others in an affected area. Google Maps offers the same, and a whole lot more.

Google has partnered with local organizations in the US, Canada, Japan, Australia and the Philippines to help provide users with information in affected areas. They go a step further by providing information on how to help individuals who are stuck in those areas as well. Google is currently working on securing partners all around the globe to ensure their SOS Alert feature is the best in the business.

According to Tech Crunch, the SOS Alerts will be featured at the top of the company’s search engine results and in Maps when a user looks for information about an incident or an impacted area. Notifications will automatically fly up on-screen if there is an impending dangerous situation.

Google Alerts Tied to International Agencies

Picture of a Google Map with alert icons.

Google has teamed up with several agencies including the Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, and many others to provide the latest information to its customers.

Nevertheless, Google’s new feature can be used for more than simply alerting you about natural disasters or terrorist attacks. It can also be utilized to notify the user about congested roads, road closures, and areas to be avoided due to overcrowding or large-scale demonstrations.

“Crowd-sourced data from Google-owned navigation app Waze will also be fed into the system to ensure it is always up-to-date. If nearby, Google will present links to official alerts, tweets from first responders on the scene, and useful short phrases in the local language,” the Express writes.

Google has set-up a dedicated team to monitor global events, determine which crisis deserves an SOS Alert, and to provide the best information possible. Soon users will be provided with links to make donations to charities involved in clean-up situations, link up and share locations with friends, as well as provide inside information about the crisis themselves.



Amazon Cashierless Store Technology for Whole Foods’ Customer Base

Recently, Amazon bought Whole Foods. And even before the ink dried, the former has been receiving suggestions on how to run the wholly-owned subsidiary. Notably, Whole Foods customers are used to innovation. Survey results released by ChargeItSpot show that Whole Foods customers are looking forward to the positive changes Amazon can bring. Before long, those changes might include Amazon cashierless store technology for its checkouts.

On Amazon Cashierless Store Technology

In late 2016, Amazon launched its first Amazon Go store. Although it was just a prototype used to test the concept of an Amazon cashierless store technology, customers have already been excited for the buzz. The main selling point or value add of Amazon Go was that it did not have any cashiers. You only needed to be an Amazon member, logging in to the store via a smartphone app.

Since Amazon Go does not have cashiers nor take-out counters. The items you pick up and add to your cart are noted so that you can easily indulge in the stores’ advancements. The customer’s app takes care of everything, including tallying up the purchases and processing payment by the credit card company. So, customers can easily enter the store, find products, and leave just as quickly with what they wanted to get in the store in the first place. Any purchases will be credited on the fly—even if the customer has not yet left the store. This Amazon cashierless store technology experience is responsible for the popularity of Amazon Go.

a photo of a woman at an Amazon Go store picking up items on the shelves beside an image of a hand holding a phone with its screen open to the Amazon Go store amid the potential reality of Whole Foods using the Amazon cashierless store technology
Whole Foods customers welcome convenience, such as that offered by Amazon Go.

Amazon Go — Innovation and Convenience

Amazon Go was supposed to be a testbed for the latest in grocery innovations. The store has been very promising and is definitely leading the industry in modernization. Indeed, Amazon has made a statement that Amazon Go will expand further south from Oregon in the following years.

The novelty of Amazon Go is not lost on the Whole Foods customer base. They understand that Amazon can pay $13.7 billion to buy Whole Foods because Amazon has the technical savvy to revolutionize the supermarket industry. With Amazon Go, the user is scanned during the whole time he or she is in the store. Since there is no cashier, sensors and cameras have taken the process of payment and transformed it into an activity integrated with the sensors. And since the customer receives an electronic copy of the bill, he already knows how much he has spent when he leaves the store.

A Survey Done for Whole Foods Customers

When polled, Whole Foods customers want to experience “cashier-free checkouts” provided by the Amazon cashierless store technology. Whole Foods has been introducing improvements in various ways to the supermarket/retail industry for many years. Most notably, they follow different rules in compensation. The company has also been known to adjust to local market conditions in order to provide their customer base with the freshest and certified organic ingredients.

The survey was conducted on 900 customers, and the results pointed to a need for a different customer experience. The main reason why consumers wanted the stores to be without any cashiers is to save time at the checkout counter. The innovation in today’s technology adds immense value for loyal Whole Foods customers.

Beyond Using Amazon Cashierless Store Technology

One of the most radical steps Whole Foods have instituted is to have its stores run as independent corporations. There are 17 regional offices, and each of these locations have enabled them to outsource their products to local producers. This fact is one tenet of sustainability and allows the stores to develop eco-friendly techniques. Buying local means that the produce is made at a short distance from where it will be bought, which leads to fresher ingredients for the customer at home. With such bold strategies in the supermarket industry, Whole Foods and the idea of it applying Amazon cashierless store technology in the future will come as no surprise to its customer base!

Plant Based Burger: The Impossible Burger’s Food Revolution

The plant based burger and food revolution is firing away on all cylinders. The research has gone from the lab to the kitchen, and is now available in specialty stores and some high end restaurants. The goal is simple, and it is based on economics of food production, it is less expensive to raise plants than livestock. It is also being pushed by big name venture capitalists.

Judging by the long line trying to get in to taste the new burger, it can be said that it was an unqualified success.

Impossible Foods has stepped into the gap, the company has received funding from Singapore-based Temasek, Open Philanthropy, as well as earlier investments from Bill Gates, Vinod Khosla and Horizon Ventures. The latest round of funding raised $75 million bringing total funding to $300 million.

Competition for plant-based meat is heating up with Beyond Meat also in the running. Beyond Meat is already selling its products in Whole Foods and Safeway branches. It is not surprising that Beyond Meat is also supported by almost the same investors as Impossible Foods. The aim remains the same: to provide a viable alternative to real meat, but with the same taste and texture.

Impossible Foods first released its unconventional burgers in 2016. Reviews have noted that the burgers are improving over time, in terms of both taste and texture. One of the first restaurants to offer the Impossible Burger was Momofuku Nishi in New York City. Owned and operated by David Chang, Momofuku Nishi is famous for its Asian fusion menu, and it is definitely not a burger joint. Judging by the long line trying to get in to taste the new burger, it can be said that it was an unqualified success.

Our colleague, William Linthicum enjoyed an Impossible Burger in New York City, said this, “I honestly really enjoyed the Impossible Burger. It looked like and tasted just like an actual beef hamburger and if you hadn’t told me that it was a plant based vegan burger I wouldn’t have known the difference. Just to make sure that my taste buds weren’t lying to me I stopped by my favorite burger place on 48th the next day for lunch and it confirmed my suspicions that they were so similar I probably couldn’t tell the difference if given a blind taste test.”

Plant-Based Food Commercial Success

A plant based burger.

The first Impossible Burgers had a rubbery texture, and a taste of mushroom with a seared patty which was crisp and well caramelized, and filled with familiar juices. Since then, it has evolved into something which tastes like real meat, and mopping the juices is a pleasure for diners.

The push for more research and development lies in the economics of the food industry. It is expected that by 2050 there will be 9 billion people on the planet, with limited resources for growing beef, pigs and poultry. Replacing the meat on the table is a race which is already reaping benefits.

The secret to making plant-based meat is a soy-based product called heme or leghemogoblin. This produces the beef taste and smell, especially when it is put on grill. Heme is the molecule that brings oxygen through the bloodstream. It is also present in plants in the production of energy.

Impossible Foods created heme in the lab with the use of soybeans and yeast. The yeast serves as the factory, and the heme is filtered from the yeast afterwards. Other ingredients include textured vegetable protein, potatoes, coconut oil, fats, salt, sugar and other additives.

Unlike Beyond Meat, which is distributed by stores, the Impossible Burger is available in 43 premium restaurants. The initial success of the company was earlier noticed by Google Ventures which wanted to purchase it for $200 million. With high-end patrons embracing plant-based food, the next step would be to ramp up production. Impossible Foods recently opened a factory in Oakland, CA, which aims to produce 1 million pounds of plant-based meat every month.

This is a bold new entry into the food industry. A burger with the taste and texture of quality sirloin would have a huge impact in the marketplace, both because of potential cost savings as well as the impact on health and the environment. Stay tuned, this is an industry sector which is going to see a lot of activity and growth in coming years.