Much like we didn’t trust thumbprint scanners on phones when they were first announced, using a camera for facial recognition seems precarious in the wake of becoming mainstream. That hasn’t stopped KFC from adopting the tech in China though, proving that we could see this everywhere in the next couple of years.
It’s a joint venture between Alibaba’s Alipay system and Ant Financial (also Alibaba) who are taking care of the new tech. KFC is the first to be testing its “Smile to Pay” system. That’s right: walk up to the kiosk, look at the camera, and the system will confirm the payment. To add an extra layer of security, the user needs to type in their cell phone number.
KFC might not be the only ones testing this tech as there's a lot of hype generating around facial recognition using 3D camera arrays. We’re seeing it in Samsung’s current lineup of smartphones, and it’s rumored to be announced with the next iPhone. In fact, it goes beyond security purposes too with sites like Twin Strangers offering to pair users up with their doppelgangers.
So as apprehensive as I am about this being used for something as important as payments, it looks like we’ll be seeing more of this rather than less. Ant Financial is claiming that theirs is more reliable than the competition, saying that they’re overcoming fraud by “merging software and hardware by linking sophisticated algorithms with the 3D camera to prevent biometric spoofing.” Now, in all fairness to their efforts, a 3D camera rig mounted to the top of the kiosk is arguably more efficient at its job than the front-facing camera of a smartphone. If you have trouble picturing the setup, just think along the lines of Microsoft’s Kinect. KFC are able to discern the right face from a crowd of people, and even with heavy makeup on the user.
To add to the security concerns, Samsung’s smartphone system has been easily fooled by holding up a picture. This is hopefully something that a full array of cameras that can sense depth would combat pretty well. For now though, I’m wondering if bringing your credit card or, god forbid, cash with you to KFC is still the best option. It’s surely amazing that we’re able to see this kind of tech come to life, but I’d rather use it to find my doppelganger before I pay for a bucket of chicken.
What do you think? Is is worth the hype or would you find yourself avoiding it?
[via The Verge]