Apple Patents A Pizza Box…And Other Small Business Tech News This Week

(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Apple’s circular pizza box could disrupt the pizza industry.

The tech giant has a new campus that will be opening soon, and one of its coolest features is a special kind of pizza box that will be available at its employee cafeteria. The container is so original that Apple filed for the patent back in 2010, and the circular design includes “a series of holes that have been drilled into the lid of the box, allowing steamy air to escape and give the eater ease of mind that their pizza crust will not be soggy.” The pizza boxes can also be stored in a stack to minimize storage space and are made of environmentally friendly materials. (Source: Quartz)

Why this is important for your business:

Even if you own a pizza shop and don’t use Apple products, you may still be paying the tech company every time you put a pie in the box. Pizza shop owners may enjoy this new design. The rest of us should remember that there’s always innovation to be found from the most unlikely of sources.

2 — Special earbuds can now translate in real time.

Bragi’s Dash Pro “ear computers” will have an updated operating system that uses the iTranslate app to provide real-time translation in over 90 languages. There are two models currently available: the $329 version from the company’s website and the $500 version tailored by hearing aid manufacturer Starkey (which includes an audiologist making an exact impression of the ear canal so that the final product fits the listener perfectly). (Source: WIRED)

Why this is important for your business:

If your business requires frequent overseas travel, even the cost of the tailored version is well worth it.  Imagine having a translator in your ear!

3 — Smell could be the next frontier for immersive technology.

A group of interaction design students have invented a way to replicate synesthesia using a gadget called “Bouquet.” The color-to-smell translator was built in a week during a workshop in Switzerland and is a “cone-shaped device that is fitted with an optical sensor on one end and emits aromas on the other.” (Source: Fast Company)

Why this is important for your business:

Workshop leader Niklas Roy said, “Smell has tremendous potential for AR and VR applications, as it addresses our emotions so directly.” If you’re developing these applications for your business, take note. With most of the five senses being integral to augmented and virtual reality, it appears that the sense of smell could be the next big thing.

4 — Washington, D.C. taxis will now use Square instead of traditional meters.

The taxis in DC will be fighting against Uber and Lyft by completely overhauling their current meter system and will instead use mobile devices and Square for payment processing. Dynamic pricing will also be available, where “drivers can give discounts during periods when they have trouble securing fares.” The new, meter-free cab service in Washington, D.C., will be available by the end of August this year. (Source: Bloomberg)

Why this is important for your business:

Mobile payment systems like Square are growing because of consumer demand. Hopefully you’re taking mobile payments in your business, too.

5 — Japan’s small businesses are buying robot workers to meet labor demands.

Because of the country’s problems with a shrinking workforce, Japan’s small- and medium-sized businesses will likely be using automation to fill the many empty positions available. A Bank of Japan survey found that “companies with share capital of 100 million yen to 1 billion yen plan to boost investment in the fiscal year that started in April by 17.5 percent, the highest level on record.” (Source: Reuters)

Why this is important for your business:

Sign of the times. The robot workers can be used in industries ranging from manufacturing and construction to hotels and food and beverage makers. How long before you’re doing the same?