S’pore start-up Crown Technologies secures investment from JR East to deploy robot baristas in Japan

Singapore retail tech start-up Crown Technologies has secured an investment from a subsidiary of East Japan Railway Company – namely JR East Business Development SEA – to deploy Artificial Intelligence (AI) robot baristas across stations of Japan’s largest passenger train line operator.

The company announced on Monday (11 January) that the investment will accelerate the rollout of the robot barista ELLA across East Japan Railway’s network of 1,657 train stations that serve an average of 17 million passengers daily.

Capable of producing 200 cups of barista-quality coffee per hour, operating 24 hours a day and seven days a week, ELLA is designed for unmanned contactless retail operations in high-volume environments.

The robot barista, which powered by an ecosystem comprising patented proprietary IoT (Internet of Things)-connected software, has a modular set-up that allows its offerings to be localized for Japan market.

Additionally, it has digital touchpoints such as an interactive transparent OLED screen and mobile app ordering system, which would allow JR East to tap into various of engagement possibilities like advertisements and notifications targeted directly to the end-user.

ELLA is monitored 24/7 for any abnormalities that may affect its operations and uses predictive analytics to forecast demand and digitize the supply chain management, making it easier for replenishment and servicing of the kiosk, said Crown Technologies.

“By placing their bet on our technology that we’ve built in Singapore to serve the exact purpose, it not only puts us on the map but is also the strongest testament to the vision that my team and I have worked tirelessly to build upon in the last two years,” said Keith Tan, CEO and founder of Crown Technologies.

It added that the completion of ELLA is slated to meet the increased demands of the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

Crown Technologies noted that the investment would bring the firm’s valuation to S$33 million.

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