The Cali Group announced today that it has launched a facial recognition ordering kiosk pilot program at its Pasadena CaliBurger restaurant. The move is another step towards full automation for the quick-service restaurant chain, which debuted Flippy, the burger flipping robot, at that same location earlier this year.
The facial recognition kiosk, which uses NEC’s NeoFace facial recognition software, will identify registered customers and pull up their loyalty accounts without requiring them to swipe a card. From there, customers can place orders or bring up their meal histories for faster re-ordering. According to the Cali Group, if customers like the new system, similar kiosks will be rolled out to CaliBurger’s 40 locations across the global next year.
Here’s a video explainer from CaliBurger:
As of now, the kiosk won’t allow you to pay with your face, a feature that Cali Group says will also be rolled out in 2018.
In a recent survey from Oracle presented at the Global Gaming Expo in October, nearly half of consumers polled said using facial recognition and 3D imaging would make their restaurant experience better, as they liked the idea of not having to present a loyalty card. In that same research, 46 percent of restaurant operators said facial recognition would be mainstream by 2025.
While showing your mug may be more convenient, security is an immediate concern that comes to mind with facial recognition. If 5 million credit card numbers can be stolen from Sonic Drive-In customers, what happens if hackers can access your face?
Today’s news no doubt should concern CaliBurger restaurant employees and, more broadly, quick-service restaurant employees everywhere. As noted, CaliBurger has already been trying out the Flippy burger ‘bot in the kitchen (and food companies overall helped drive record orders of robots this year). McDonald’s and Wendy’s have both rolled out self-service kiosks, and Apple is training a generation of iPhone X users to trust facial recognition.
When asked how tech like the kiosks will impact existing employees and future headcount, a CaliBurger spokesperson replied via email with the following statement. “If customers are pleased with the new ordering experience, we plan to roll out the kiosks to CaliBurger’s locations across the globe. Our goal is to innovate the customer experience by using this technology to help and work alongside kitchen staff to reduce hazardous and tedious tasks and increase productivity.”
Automation however, doesn’t automatically translate into success, as Eatsa recently discovered. It seems though, like CaliBurger is taking a methodical approach, and 2018 is right around the corner, so we should see pretty quickly how well people like coming face-to-face with facial recognition.