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What happened to biometrics in the foodservice industry?

Updated: Dec 25, 2021

It was only a few years ago that biometrics was the hot tech that would revolutionize every industry. While biometrics did take off in the mobile sector for security, its growth in other industries seems stagnant by comparison.

The foodservice industry was one of the big hopefuls for successful biometrics integration. Optimists promised greater security for businesses and greater convenience for customers. Though not as ubiquitous as optimists might have thought, there is some progress.

With more technologically advanced all-in-one POS systems becoming the new standard for restaurants, fingerprint identification has become more popular. Employees clock in and out with their fingerprints, replacing pin numbers or key cards and preventing fraud.

Although technology relying on fingerprint recognition has risen, facial recognition seems to have stalled. Optimists envisioned using facial recognition to recognize a returning customer and quickly pull up personal preferences, payment information, and loyalty program information. A handful of restaurants, such as CaliBurger, Malibu Poke, and BurgerFi, have rolled out facial recognition technology and have reported lower wait times due to the more streamlined ordering.

In 2018, 78% of consumers were open to the idea of facial recognition in restaurants according to Oracle. However, despite these high numbers, why has it not as universal as other biometrics? One of the main limiting factors is the high cost. Pricing for this technology ranges greatly and is not easy to navigate due to the necessity of custom systems per business.

Another limitation of using facial recognition technology is the lack of trust. It has been a largely controversial topic for the use of facial recognition by the government and police over concerns of discrimination or violation of privacy. Whether these concerns extend to the foodservice industry is still unclear. However, with facial recognition gaining more acceptance in other industries such as banking and public transportation, biometrics in restaurants seems inevitable.

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