Burger Joint Goes Hi-tech with Facial Recognition
A family trip to any fast-food restaurant can be a little daunting, and once you’re there, ordering often becomes a struggle all of its own. Everyone wants a different meal, each person with their own specific requests – a burger with cheese, no cheese, bacon, ketchup but no mayo, two patties but no bread or fries, etc.
With that in mind, tech-savvy burger chain CaliBurger has figured out a way to simplify the whole process by tying past orders to a customer’s rewards account.
Only, in the case of CaliBurger, the key to the account is not a card, it’s your face.
Already known for injecting technology into the fast-food world – take, for example, Flippy the burger-flipping robot – CaliBurger partnered with NEC Corportation of America (NEC) to roll out facial recognition kiosks at its US and Canada locations.
Powered by PopID, the AI-enabled kiosks work by taking a digital fingerprint of a face and matching it against a member database—meaning that, once registered with the kiosk, customers only have to walk up and look at the camera to access their account, complete with ordering and payment options.
The kiosks also give customers access to their purchase history which then allows them to reorder a previous meal in just seconds—a feature that saves time and helps prevent ordering errors.
But who really wants to order and pay for food with their face?
The answer is more than you’d think.
CaliBurger’s Chief Technology Officer Anthony Lomelino told RETHINK Retail that, since its launch last year, 20 percent of CaliBurger’s customers have registered their faces with their PopID kiosks and nearly 70 percent pay with their face again on their next visit.
If the technology continues to prove popular among customers, the company said it will install the kiosks at all CaliBurger locations around the globe.
A July 2017 survey by Viewpost found that 80 percent of respondents support futuristic payment technologies such as fingerprint sensing, facial recognition and retinal scanning.
And the idea is certainly spreading: this year, Stanford University and University of Southern California students will be able to smile for their food at certain campus eateries.
Although some critics of facial payments fear that the technology could infringe upon privacy laws, NEC assures that the facial recognition program is specific to the kiosk and that customers’ information is stored securely—so, as one actress put it in an NEC promotional video, you don’t have to worry about stalkers finding your face.
"We are focused on building the first universal network for face identity in locations with young people that embrace a face-based identity as more accurate, convenient, and secure than traditional mechanisms for validating identity," said John Miller, Chairman and CEO of Cali Group.
By FEN BOXLY and GABRIELLA BOCK