A strange new payment method has been unveiled at a KFC in Hangzhou, China. Patrons need only look at the camera and smile for their identity to be recognized, and to be charged for their food.
The technology is the product of Ant Financial, a subsidiary of the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. It needs about one to two seconds to take a facial scan with a 3D camera and run it against a “liveness algorithm” to confirm the identity of the payer. The company released a short video detailing how this new payment system would function, and how it can recognize a user despite makeup, crowds or a change of hairstyle.
“Taking the facial-recognition payment technology offline was no easy task,” explained Jidong Chen, head of biometric identification technology at Ant Financial. “On how we detect when someone’s photo is being manipulated when someone is falsely impersonating another person — we prevent this by merging software and hardware by linking sophisticated algorithms with the 3D camera. We can prevent biometric spoofing.”
There’s no telling if this form of payment will catch on. There’s also some very shady implications to a camera that can identify an individual, regardless of how they attempt to disguise themselves. But hey! If nothing else, it could make a Happy Meal really live up to its name.