Similar to the soda-mixing Coca-Cola Freestyle machines introduced years ago (which were co-created by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway), Kellogg’s is rolling out a new vending machine called the Kellogg’s Bowl Bot that creates custom mixes of cereals and toppings like fresh fruits and nuts and spits out a breakfast ready bowl faster than you can groggily toast a bagel.
The machines were developed by Chowbotics, now a division of DoorDash, who adapted the technology behind its salad-making robots to create the Bowl Bot which more or less does the exact same thing, but with different, and arguably superior, ingredients. You don’t win friends with salad.
Using a touchscreen interface on the vending machine itself, or a mobile app on a smartphone or tablet, users can fill a bowl with a combination of 22 different ingredient options, including milk or yogurt as a base, and while pricing starts at $US3 ($4) for a basic bowl of cereal, those looking for a more elaborate way to start (or end) their day can spend up to $US6.50 ($8).
Like any pizza parlor offering a respectable list of toppings, the Bowl Bot also offers a menu of several pre-determined mixes for those who can’t make up their minds. “About Last Night” mixes Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, and Krave cereals with chocolate drops, banana chips, and espresso syrup — a true breakfast of champions — while “Hawaii 5-0″ blends Frosted Mini-Wheats and Bear Naked Fit Triple Berry Granola with coconut, mango, and pineapple, which is sure to be as divisive as a Hawaiian pizza.
If you want to try one of the Kellogg’s Bowl Bot machines yourself you’re unfortunately going to have to enroll at either Florida State University or the University of Wisconsin-Madison, because Kellogg’s has only made them available to college students at this time. As far as testing goes, university campuses seem like a great place to first install these machines given how erratic and exotic the eating habits of college students can be. There’s little doubt these vending machines are also collecting usage data, and it will be interesting to see what ingredients end up being most popular. My bet is an all marshmallow mix with a shot of espresso syrup.