Do People Want Facial Recognition Technology?
It sounds like something from a Science Fiction film. You step into a restaurant, order your meal and then pay with a glance at the camera. After dining, you wander through a mall, where biometric cameras read your face and offer ads that will most appeal to you.
NEC and Caliburger are partnering to make this fiction a reality, and it is much closer than you may think. In a recent advertisement, they show a number of Caliburger diners who are able to use a digital kiosk to place orders. Then, when the shopper returns to the restaurant, they can bring up past orders and loyalty points by simply looking at the screen, as the kiosk uses facial recognition software to save the customer’s data.
In a press release, NEC said these new payment kiosks will have the following features:
- When shoppers take an item off the shelf, signage will display personalized information related to the item, including product information and upsell ads.
- Once payment information is stored, shoppers can pay by looking at the camera.
- Video analytics, which will analyze shopper habits and allow retailers to more logically design their stores.
But do consumers want this technology? There seems to be some discomfort among all age groups for a variety of reasons. Surprisingly, Baby Boomers seemed most attracted to this technology.
David Coyle, an attorney, said that he would definitely use this technology as long as he could opt-out of having his credit card information stored, as he had security concerns. “When my children were younger, when we went for fast food, I wish I could have had the ability to have the restaurant pull up what we had ordered in the past. It would have saved time and aggravation.”
Not everyone is so enthusiastic, though. Jack Sullivan, a GenXer, says he would never use this kiosk, as he thinks this technology focuses more on company’s maximizing profit than attending to customer needs: “I wouldn’t use the kiosk. I already feel that businesses have a great deal of disregard for customers; and they do their best to dehumanize customer interaction. This kiosk elevates the disregard for customers and the desire only to increase profit to a higher level.”
Holly Burnside, a fellow GenXer, echoed this concern, “I like the idea in a way, but facial recognition technology creeps me out, and I also think people don’t always want to order the same things at restaurants, so I’m not sure of the real value of it. Finally, it seems like one more step to eliminating jobs for real people, and I don’t like that.”
While it may come as no surprise that GenXers are not in love with this technology, even tech savvier Millennials are hesitant. Maleika Flemister, a Millennial who works in the food service industry, echoed Holly’s concern. Upon seeing the video, she said, “They’re trying to take my job,” and added that she was worried what sort of impact this technology would have, not just on customer service but also on the people who rely on these sorts of jobs to save money for college and support themselves.
No matter what popular sentiment may be, facial recognition technology will start appearing in stores within the next few years.