The ubiquitous summer beverage across Asia is about to be brought into the future.
Meet Bubble, the company behind a vending machine that will change the way you order your next cup of bubble tea. Bubble founders Ng Cheuk Kwong and Wong Wan Chi created a robotic kiosk that is able to mix customized drinks such as milk tea with pearls, fruit tea or even cocktails.
Customers order their desired beverage through the kiosk’s touch screen or a smartphone and then walk away with a customized beverage in under a minute. Customers can also choose to share the recipe with a touch of a button.
Founder Ng was a fan of bubble tea but one day while queuing for his favorite beverage, he noticed that the process of making bubble tea was half mechanical, half human.
“I didn’t understand why the process couldn’t be fully mechanized. Half the process, like adding the sugar, was already mechanized and the human contribution of it could also be mechanized. That’s where I derived my idea from,” said Ng.
With Ng’s robotic kiosks, customers spend less time waiting for their drinks while companies can cut down on overhead costs like manpower by an approximate 70 percent.
“It’s a win-win for companies and customers. It only takes about 45 seconds to produce a drink compared to the current five minutes production time. So we are saving about 85 percent of time for customers,” Ng said.
Dr. Ng , who graduated from the University of Hong Kong with a Bachelor of Science (double majors in Physics and Finance and minor in Astronomy) and has a Ph.D in semiconductor physics and positron physics has always been interested in hardware and the Internet of Things.
“I have always been interested in hardware, other than Bubble, I was also involved in the 3D printing company. I believe that technology can be an essential tool to help solve people’s problems and improve their quality of life,” Ng said.
Although the company is called Bubble after bubble tea, Ng said the technology can expand into other beverage categories as well. Bubble’s technology will work well in offices, where the technology can provide employees healthy and customized coffee drinks. It can also be set up in cafes and bars and other high foot-traffic locations.
Ng plans to first roll out Bubble’s robot kiosks in Hong Kong and then work with distributors and vending machine vendors to take the technology to Taiwan and Southeast Asia. He believes that the market in Hong Kong is quite large due to the bubble tea drinking culture.
“We have to really understand the local market in order to be successful. User behavior in each market is very unique and the pathway to success will be determined by how we address their needs,” said Ng.