Drive-thru may soon use artificial intelligence and facial recognition

I live in a small town and am delighted when the clerk at the local convenience store knows me so well that he can predict my drink order before I speak. But if every fast food restaurant in the country also knew about my drink order when I went to the drive-thru, would I have the same satisfaction or be scared?

We may soon find out as McDonald’s tested the steering wheel controls using artificial intelligence. In some places, the company is scanning license plates (with customer’s permission) to help personalize the experience and predict orders, according to CNN Business. McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski told CNBC that 10 locations in Chicago use voice assistants to take control in drive-thru lanes and see around 85% accuracy.

The concept may be spreading around the world sooner than you think. Last week, McDonald’s announced in a statement its partnership with IBM “to further accelerate the development and deployment of its automated order taking technology.”

Jamie Richardson, vice president of burger chain White Castle, told CNN Business he’s using artificial intelligence at an Indiana site, hoping it would help ensure the visit is positive.

“The idea is to make sure it’s user-friendly. “They remember me, they know who I am,” he said.

And last year, amid COVID-19 and tight restrictions in California, several restaurants began offering “face payment” for a completely contactless experience. PopPay is a service that allows users to connect a credit card and selfie to their account, and then have their faces scanned at participating locations to pay. There are dozens of restaurants and retailers in the Pasadena area that offer kiosk, drive-thru or counter service. The customer can also link loyalty accounts to their profile and receive an SMS when the transaction is complete.

A Russian bank is currently offering a similar feature in some supermarkets across the country. Reuters reports that Sberbank plans to offer facial recognition payments at 100 grocery stores and that a transaction would take just three seconds “compared to 34 seconds for paying with cash and 15 seconds with a charge card.”

While all of this may seem extremely convenient, many are concerned about privacy.

An Illinois man is suing McDonalds for using voice recognition technology in the drive-thru. Restaurant Business reported that Shannon Carpenter’s lawsuit claimed McDonald’s violated state biometric privacy law, which requires businesses to obtain consent before collecting biometric information.

Some schools in England were hoping to use facial recognition in their dining rooms for contactless payments and get kids through faster. But the BBC reported that North Ayrshire schools have decided to take a break for the time being after the UK Information Commissioner’s office suggested the technology may be intrusive.

Facial recognition opportunities aren’t just about food. The travel industry is getting involved too.

Delta Airlines travelers to Atlanta will have the choice of showing their faces to a camera instead of showing ID or handing over a boarding pass. To participate, passengers will need to enroll and register their TSA PreCheck membership and SkyMiles number in the Fly Delta app.

At the airport, they can look into a camera at the baggage drop, security checkpoints, and gate instead of showing a boarding pass or ID. The image is encrypted and sent to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection facial biometric matching service. This is completely voluntary and will be rolled out for security in the coming weeks and for bag check-in and boarding before the end of the year.

In the Russian capital, the Moscow metro uses “Face Pay” at all of its stations, according to the Moscow Times. Once passengers use the app to connect their photo, credit card, and transit card, they can simply look into a camera to enter.

Not everyone is excited about the rapid rise in facial recognition technology. A recent National Law Review article highlighted several concerns, including possibilities for hacking, issues with accuracy, and racial bias in some facial recognition algorithms.

If you or someone you know is concerned about too much facial recognition technology in the world, here is the perfect Christmas stocking. Anti-Facial Recognition Glasses The Reflectacles have infrared blocking lenses and reflective frames designed to trick any facial recognition system that comes your way. They may give you some peace of mind, but it will likely take you longer to get through airport security than the woman next to you letting TSA scan her face.


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