Biometrics: The “About Face" Hospitality Needs

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Hotels and restaurants unlock next-gen service, loyalty and operations with facial recognition.

Biometrics: The “About Face" Hospitality Needs

By Kesha Williams, Software Engineer Manager, Chick-fil-A - 12/27/2018

Facial recognition, a subfield of computer vision, has the potential to transform hospitality in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine yet. Computer vision, a field of artificial intelligence (or AI), gives computers a visual understanding of the world. In layman’s terms, this means a computer can look at a picture, image, or live video stream and extract attributes about the individuals or objects shown. 

When a computer looks at a picture, it sees numbers, blocks, and values represented in grayscale. Each person has a unique faceprint, or pixel pattern, that will allow a computer to identify that person. There’s much that can be done with the knowledge of who a person is by simply detecting characteristics like age, gender, ethnicity, or sentiment in real-time. This real-time knowledge can transform hospitality by shifting the overall paradigm to be more proactive and less reactive. 

There are many use cases for facial recognition technology:

  • Identifying how many people enter a store, as well as ages, ethnicities, and genders, allows management to better understand foot traffic to tailor marketing.
  • With sentiment analysis, facial recognition provides feedback in real-time.  
  • A traveler can check-in and enter their hotel room using facial recognition.
  • Paying “with your face” offers a new level of convenience. 
  • Employee-tracking alerts managers if a scheduled worker hasn’t arrived.
  • An underage person attempts to use a realistic-looking fake identification, but facial recognition determines their age to be 15. 

Getting started with facial recognition technology is easier than most organizations think. From a development standpoint, existing cloud solutions on the market provide several options. Amazon Rekognition, a service provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS), is an option for developers interested in facial recognition. Google has a similar offering. These services allow developers to quickly build and integrate computer vision and facial recognition technology into their applications. 

Computer vision and facial recognition provide a unique way to connect with customers and ensure safety in establishments. Indeed, facial recognition allows the hospitality industry to improve the customer experience in new ways, as emotions drive spending and loyalty. 

What was your first job? 

My first job was working with the National Security Agency (NSA). I once held a top secret (i.e. TS/SCI) security clearance!

Who inspires you? 

I am inspired by people who seek to increase diversity in technology and inspire the younger generation to pursue careers in STEM.

What are yourhobbies? 

I love reading science fiction novels. The novels often inspire the artificial intelligence (AI) programs I build. 

Chick-fil-a Tech Leader to Teach MURTEC '19 Attendees about Emerging Tech

Kesha Williams will lead a MURTEC University session on "Innovate & Iterate: How to Deploy Emerging Tech Rapidly with Real Results." The full agenda is available at https://www.murtec.com.

What technologies excite you? 

I am excited about artificial intelligence (AI) and more specifically machine learning. Machine Learning, when used correctly, can remove human bias from certain situations providing for a more fair and equitable future.

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