FGCU’s Jamba By Blendid Kiosk is the First of Its Kind in Florida


Photo courtesy of Covahne Michaels

Alexandra Porter, Staff Writer

More than just a vending machine, the new Jamba by Blendid kiosk on campus brings new innovations to food preparation.

Located in the Cohen Student Union, the kiosk serves blended smoothies using artificial intelligence and robotics. Key factors of the machine are giving healthy options and inspiration to FGCU students, according to Covahne Michaels, the vice president of marketing for Blendid.

“The Blendid kiosk is a fully autonomous restaurant in a box,” Michaels said.

The kiosk is made up of two robotic arms in an enclosed space. One prepares the smoothies. This arm gathers ingredients that can be seen in containers in the back. The machine blends them in a blender located to one side of the kiosk. The other arm holds a cup in place as the smoothie is poured. The arm serves the smoothies between two windows. 

Through the tablet on the kiosk or through Blendid’s app, customers can customize their smoothie order. The kiosk at FGCU is the first in Florida. 

“It can precisely prepare recipes and serve it literally out the window to a guest,” Michaels said. “The recipes that are prepared are made fresh on demand and are customizable to an individual consumer’s unique taste and health preferences.”

Fruits, vegetables and nutrient-dense powders are used to make the smoothies.

“There’s no fillers, no sugar added and no ice or anything of that matter,” Michaels said.

There are multiple locations across the United States of the same kiosk that allow access to healthy food options. The main message from Blendid is paving the path to make healthy food more accessible and sustainable to everyone, according to Michaels. 

“We’re doing that by bringing this technology which enables really fresh food to be available at all times of the day,” Michaels said. “Along with that, because of the self-contained unit that we operate, we’re also significantly reducing food waste.”

Tara Scrivano, resident district manager for FGCU’s Dining Services, said the kiosk is currently in its pilot stage on campus. However, she said there is excitement around having the kiosk even if it is not at its full capacity.

“It lends itself really well to campus,” Scrivano said. “Of course, we used to have a full Jamba location, so we knew that it would be something positive to bring to campus. It also is very different with the technology that it shows, and we were very excited to be able to have this.”

The kiosk is a source of entertainment and publicity, according to Scrivano.

“Any time you walk near the machine there’s always kind of a group of students, faculty, or staff gathered around it and watching, so I couldn’t imagine it not being a pretty successful venture, for sure,” Scrivano said.

Scrivano said this excitement around the kiosk is coupled with the idea of a new way forward in dining operations.

“I don’t think there’s any denying that technology is really the way of the future,” Scrivano said. “I think that going through a global pandemic like COVID really made people rethink the way we do business and the way we move forward doing business.”

Students gather around the Jamba by Blendid kiosk inside the Cohen Student Union. Photo courtesy of Covahne Michaels

Scrivano said being on the forefront with this new technology was the reason to bring the kiosk to FGCU.

“In order to keep up with what was on trend and what makes sense for this kind of new normal, we were really excited,” Scrivano said. “We had this opportunity presented to us, and we jumped on it.”

Besides providing a healthy option for busy people, Michaels said inspiring students and faculty is an important idea behind the kiosk.

“Sometimes seeing new types of innovation can really spark new creative ideas in yourself,” Michaels said. “Obviously, it is a university of people who are studying hard and hopefully are going to be change makers in the world. So, perhaps seeing a new way to prepare food could provide inspiration for whatever their personal passions are in their life.”

Inspiration is what led to the creation of both Blendid and this kiosk, according to Michaels. She said the three founders of Blendid — Venki Ayalur, Vipin Jain and Vijay Dodd — have an extensive knowledge of technology, engineering and software development.

“They were very interested in the idea of figuring out how you could replicate things,” Michaels said. “So, one of our CEOs specifically is a big ‘Star Trek’ fan, and there was a device on ‘Star Trek’ years ago called the replicator that would replicate food. They were sort of joking but serious about what if you could do that with food.”

Another one of the founders was missing his mother’s home-cooked recipes from India, Michaels said.

“As much as he tried to recreate them himself, he couldn’t,” Michaels said. “He was like, ‘Why couldn’t I digitize her recipes and just get them right?’”

Michaels said the founders came together through these different aspects to be able to accurately create recipes through technology. Michaels said their main goal is to create this technology for a variety of cuisines in the future.