Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

One unexpected byproduct of the robotization of food — an accelerating trend I reported on last week — is an explosion of data about eaters' habits and preferences.

Why it matters: Companies often use this information to personalize food or ads to individual preferences. But seemingly trivial information about what and when you eat is also a gold mine that companies share with other interested parties — like your employer.

The same tradeoff at the center of the internet — personal information for convenience — is at play with trendy new food robots. When that data reveals something about employee work habits, their bosses get very interested.

Two companies that are selling drinks and food inside offices are also gathering valuable information on who buys them, and when.

  • Briggo, a robotic barista, prepares specialty coffees ordered on an app, so that you can grab a nice cappuccino rather than scorched office coffee as you arrive at work.
  • Byte places large, fancy vending machines in offices, offering employees easy access to healthy lunches and snacks while keeping them near their desks.

"We know everything about you, everything about the drinks you ordered," said Charles Studor, Briggo's founder, said at a food robotics conference last week. "We blow [employers] away with how much data we have about customers," he said.

  • Briggo collects information about employees — like when they arrive at work, and their circadian rhythms, according to Briggo VP of Marketing Mike Westgate — and shares anonymous patterns with employers. The bots have been slinging beans at Dell's Austin-area headquarters for three years.
  • Byte convinced one law firm of the machines' worth when it revealed how many more hours were billed because lawyers stayed at the office during lunch, the company's co-founder, Lee Mokri, said at last week's conference. Mokri later told Axios he estimates Byte saves employers 140 hours of productivity a month, on average.

What they're saying: Both companies say they share aggregate usage data, not individuals' habits, with employers.

  • The one exception: Briggo found that an employee was gaming its promotions and sign-up bonuses. The company tattled on the employee, who was fired.
  • Briggo says it's never heard privacy concerns from employees. "I suspect most folks can deduce the amount of information we know about them," said Westgate.

Go deeper: Automating food from farm to front door

Go deeper

Updated 35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 31,605,656 — Total deaths: 970,934 Total recoveries: 21,747,491Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,897,432 — Total deaths: 200,814 — Total recoveries: 2,646,959 — Total tests: 96,612,436Map.
  3. Health: The U.S. reaches 200,000 coronavirus deaths — The CDC's crumbling reputation — America turns against coronavirus vaccine.
  4. Politics: Elected officials are failing us on much-needed stimulus.
  5. Business: Two-thirds of business leaders think pandemic will lead to permanent changes — Fed chair warns economy will feel the weight of expired stimulus.
  6. Sports: NFL fines maskless coaches.

Trump pushes to expand ban against anti-racism training to federal contractors

Trump speaking at Moon Township, Penns., on Sept. 22. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump announced late Tuesday that the White House attempt to halt federal agencies' anti-racism training would be expanded to block federal contractors from "promoting radical ideologies that divide Americans by race or sex."

Why it matters: The executive order appears to give the government the ability to cancel contracts if anti-racist or diversity trainings focused on sexual identity or gender are organized. The memo applies to executive departments and agencies, the U.S. military, federal contractors and federal grant recipients.

Louisville declares state of emergency as Breonna Taylor decision looms

A demonstrator holds up a sign of Breonna Taylor during a protest in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer declared a state of emergency Tuesday "due to the potential for civil unrest" ahead of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron's expected announcement on the Breonna Taylor case.

Of note: Louisville has witnessed more than 115 days of protests over the police killing of Taylor, an unarmed Black woman, with calls for all the officers involved to be charged.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!