PepsiCo unveils touchless menu gesture technology targeting convenience in fast food outlets
22 Sep 2021 --- As consumer appetite for convenience grows, new technologies are being developed to increase efficiency and ease for consumers. PepsiCo has responded by creating a touchless screen technology controlled by gestures for use in quick service restaurants (QSR) amid greater concern over hygiene.
Using this technology – which has recently been trialed by PepsiCo’s partner in Poland, KFC, customers – simply order by moving their hands, with no contact needed.
Mia Sorgi, director of digital product and experience at PepsiCo Europe, tells FoodIngredientsFirst how an application for a menu controlled by gesture can be a good alternative to traditional touchscreen kiosks.
“As an industry, we are moving increasingly toward digital kiosk ordering,” she highlights. “The use of digital kiosks can lead to a reduction in wait times for customers and an improvement in overall efficiencies for our restaurant partners. Research predicts that the global self-service kiosk market will reach US$30.8 billion by 2024.”
From the initial trials of PepsiCo’s new machine, users were engaged and interested in the innovation. The vast majority – 85% of consumers – would use the kiosk again in the future.
Meanwhile, eight out of ten had a positive experience with the kiosk, and most users were able to get through an order in 40 seconds.
Growing interest in gestural interfaces
Due to heightened concern around hygiene prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is increased interest in low contact technology, leading to the development of innovations that enable contactless interactions with minimal human contact.
While the risk of transmission via surfaces is still being assessed, consumers have become increasingly focused on low contact technology due to concerns over hygiene, notes Sorgi.
PepsiCo has responded to these changing consumer demands by creating a first-of-its-kind restaurant menu controlled by hand gestures as an alternative to traditional touchscreen kiosks.
This is the first deployment of a touch-free gesture interface in a QSR using this type of computer vision and 3D hand-tracking technology.
“We think this technology has great potential and we are now considering next steps for further pilots as we assess the results. For example, we are currently very interested in its potential for curbside and drive-through customers,” says Sorgi.
“What we’ve shown is that this is a viable option of food and drink ordering that had not been proven before. Now that we have shown the effectiveness of gesture technology, the possibilities are endless for how we can use it to benefit our customers – and our restaurant partners.”
During the trial, PepsiCo took on key learnings around how to improve the kiosk’s performance, including its positioning in the restaurant, as well as changes and tweaks around its height and accessibility.
“For example, people wearing sleeves, holding keys, using a phone or wearing gloves created certain challenges when using the gesture motion-controlled kiosks. These learnings will be used to train the model better in order to most effectively serve our consumers,” adds Sorgi.
“In addition, while we started developing the technology before the pandemic, some of the testing and development was done during lockdown. We were also not able to test the system on a real kiosk because of restrictions.”
As a result, we had to use a prototype for testing, which presented its own challenges, she claims, “When we were finally able to test with real users as lockdowns eased, we were delighted by the outcomes.”
Solving real-world problems
PepsiCo’s deployment of a touch-free gesture interface in a QSR shows how service and user experience design can help leverage the best in emerging technology to solve real-world problems.
“PepsiCo is committed to being a pioneer in this space and to working with our partners to drive transformation. The future of immersive digital commerce is just around the corner, and gestural interfaces are sure to be a growing part of this landscape,” envisions Sorgi.
“Now that we have shown the effectiveness of gesture technology, the possibilities are endless for how we can use it to benefit our customers. We are focused on how we can utilize technology best to provide a better experience for consumers.”
As one of the largest FMCGs in the world, PepsiCo is striving to be at the forefront of changing consumer trends. “Technology plays a pivotal role in helping us do this,” she notes.
By Elizabeth Green
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