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KFC China: New facial recognition software is more offending than ground-breaking

Poor industry performance due to bad food ratings and hygiene issues has been severely damaging for the KFC brand over recent years in China. With a significant share in the Chinese market, KFC’s parent owner Yum! have some important decisions to make in order to build back growth for the franchises once again.

It is clear that the technological vanguards are forefront to many industries who wish to make their services more efficient, cost saving and increase its customer satisfaction ratings, while of course keeping consistency across its brand. With KFC having a rocky past couple of years in China, the Yum! brand (parent company who owns the KFC) has been exploring ways to improve its sales, and experimenting with a KFC outlet seems to be its breakthrough method of improving.

A facial recognition technology will be installed in a Beijing branch, where users look into a screen and the software will use the image of the face and it will recommend to the customer a suggested order off the menu. It will apparently base its decision on deep learning and machine learning algorithms working with the customer’s gender, age, facial expression and shape. If it’s a returning customer, it will have their face retained on its database and therefore may suggest the last order the customer had eaten there.

Much criticism has already been formed towards this new technology. With it basing decisions based on appearance and expression, it is argued that this technology may be too presumptuous and offending to individuals who may get offended by the type of food they are being offered. The opposite feeling from investors however, with the stock price of Yum China Holdings jumping during the days of the announcement of the new technology.

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