In the book Angels & Demons, there’s a very grim scene where the hero finds a murder victim missing an eye. It soon becomes clear that the eye has been stolen so that it can be used to access a laboratory using a retinal scanner.
When I read this back in 2009, biometric security seemed to me like something that belonged in the world of data centres, banks, or fiction.
And yet biometrics are very much in the mainstream today – I accessed my bank account on my phone this morning using fingerprint recognition. It’s a no-brainer for me - by removing the need for passwords and making life my easier I didn’t think twice about signing up for it.
But how far would you be willing to go to speed up the process of getting a coffee or lunch or dinner? Would you consent to the restaurant recognising you by your face or fingerprint so you didn’t need to count out cash or find a credit card or scan your phone to pay?
And taking that one step further; would you appreciate having menus curated based on your biometrics? A restaurant deciding that you probably don’t need that slice of cheesecake that you were considering and offering you a fruit salad instead?
In our Restaurant 2025 report, we asked operators and consumers about the use of biometrics and facial recognition. This is what they told us.
Being recognised in a restaurant – the guest view
49% of the consumers that we surveyed said they would like to be recognised in a restaurant without having to give a name or show a loyalty card.
Being served more quickly – the guest view
45% of the consumers said that they would appreciate having drinks or appetizers brought to them more quickly as a result of being recognised in a restaurant.
Using recognition to provide personal service – the operator view
However, although guests showed a clear interest in the benefits of being recognised, the restaurant operators who participated in our survey were not so sure about the use of facial or biometric technology to achieve it. Only 32% of operators liked the idea of using such methods to provide a more personal or faster service. A larger proportion (34%) actually said it was unappealing.
Biometrics/facial recognition for security
44% of the restaurant operators liked the idea of using facial recognition and/or biometrics for managing security in their restaurants.
Biometrics/facial recognition for measuring sentiment and feedback
42% liked the ideas of using facial recognition or biometrics to gauge guest satisfaction after a meal or drinks.
Biometrics for staff recognition
Perhaps surprisingly, considering biometric fingerprint recognition for POS is widely available on Oracle MICROS and other terminals, only 36% of operators liked the idea of using biometrics and/or facial recognition for staff.
Biometrics/facial recognition for suggesting items on health
33% of restaurant operator survey participants liked the idea of suggesting items to guests based on their weight or health. However, 42% were not keen and found the idea unappealing.
Download the Restaurant 2025 report if you would like to read more about other emerging technologies that will impact on the food and beverage industry: robotics, wearable technology, artificial intelligence, voice recognition, 3D imaging, virtual reality, drones, and 3D printing.