Is Facial Recognition the Future of Fast Food?

An excerpt from “Is Facial Recognition the Future of Fast Food?
By Bryan Reesman
February 2017, QSR Magazine

QSR recently reported on the burgeoning trend of voice activated ordering in foodservice. Facial recognition ordering is coming, too. In the U.S., one new unit of UFood Grill in Owings Mills, Maryland, and five locations for Chicago-based chain Wow Bao are using a system designed by Nextep Systems. And a single KFC store in Beijing, China, has implemented similar technology coordinated with Chinese search engine giant Baidu.

Facial ordering is literally a snap, as UFood’s CEO Sal Rincione says. When using one of their kiosks, customers are asked if they would like to save their order, and if so, by phone number or by facial recognition. If it’s the latter, “the POS will take a picture of you and save it into the system,” he says. “Next time you come to the store it will recognize you and ask if you’d like your last order or to look at your last order. If you say yes, you swipe your card, and you’re done. That transaction takes about four seconds.”

Rincione says around two-thirds of UFood customers are using the kiosks, and they love it. He also says the adaptation has become multigenerational.

“I did a lot of focus groups before we built the [new] store trying to get feedback on what the customer wants,” Rincione says. “And I really thought the millennials would be the only ones who would want to use the kiosks, but it’s Baby Boomers, post-Boomers, millennials, Generation Z, and X. They’re all using it.”


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