How Your Face Determines Your Fast Food Order

Culture Vulture - Mindshare InSites
Cover image for  article: How Your Face Determines Your Fast Food Order

This week on Mindshare's Culture Vulture Live, Amanda Hechinger explores China's first smart restaurant.

The search engine, Baidu, also known as China's Google, has partnered with KFC to predict customer orders using facial recognition. The system recommends specific menu items based on the person's perceived age, mood and gender.

For instance, a male customer in his early 20s could be offered a set meal of a chicken burger plus wings and a Coke. At the same time, a female customer in her 50s can get a recommendation of porridge and soybean milk for breakfast. The hope is that the info can be used to predict the preferences of repeat customers.

Although this is being dubbed as artificial intelligence, for now some see it as largely a publicity stunt, especially since the technology behind the idea is still in developmental stages. However, KFC is planning to expand facial recognition tech to its other stores in China. And, it's not the first time a restaurant or organization has used machine learning to boost a product or brand.

More and more, we're seeing services turn to machine learning for solutions. Take the AI organ donor for example, launched by a liver transplant unit in Australia. Using a dating-app-like algorithm, the system takes into account basic things like sex, age, underlying disease and blood type. It then considers specific characteristics about the organ donor that might indicate whether or not it would upset a recipient's body.

For marketers and brands, it comes down to a big trend that we're seeing at Mindshare -- and one that we really witnessed at this year's CES: The idea of autonomous living. Machine learning and automation has a lot to do with emotional perception, and integrating human knowledge with technology will surely take time to improve. But if these examples are any indication, we're moving into a future where we can lean on technology to tell us what we need -- and help us get it -- before we even realize it.

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