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Burger chain tests facial recognition for ordering and loyalty

CaliBurger says the technology is part of its strategy to compete against Amazon in the digital world.

Fast casual CaliBurger is testing facial-recognition technology for loyalty members via its self-ordering kiosks. Designed in part to speed throughput, customers registered with the chain’s loyalty program will be able to pull up their loyalty account and past orders at the chain’s Pasedena, Calif., location, allowing for a transaction that takes just seconds.

First-time users will be prompted to attach their face to their accounts, which will be saved for future use. “Face-based loyalty significantly reduces the friction associated with loyalty program registration and use,” John Miller, chairman and CEO of parent company Cali Group, said in a statement.

For now, the software is limited to ordering and loyalty, though the chain plans to add payment via facial recognition in 2018. The goal is to replace credit card swiping, said Miller. “Facial recognition is part of our broader strategy to enable the restaurant and retail industries to provide the same kinds of benefits and conveniences in the built world that customers experience with retailers like Amazon in the digital world.”

This isn’t the first time the chain has gone high-tech. In March, it installed Flippy, a burger-flipping robot, at its Pasadena location, with plans to roll out the cyborg across the chain. It’s also experimenting with other robotics to automate dining room monitoring, and is exploring infrastructure for self-driving cars to aid in the delivery business.

Depending on customer reception, the facial-recognition technology will be rolled out chainwide next year.

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