The march of technology continues on without incident, and that is changing the way we do everything in our lives, including paying for whatever we happen to buy. The newest method of payment? Smiling! That’s exactly what a KFC in Hangzhou, China is trying out.
Alipay, a subsidiary of Alibaba, the company that will soon rule the world, is trying out Smile to Pay technology at this one KFC store only, for now. Ant Financial, another Alibaba subsidiary (of course), created the technology and is eager to expand it to the world. How does it work?
The tech needs one to two seconds of facial scanning with a 3D camera and a “liveness detection algorithm”, whatever that means (it’s your phone number) to prevent fraud and voila, you’ve paid for your biscuits and mashed potatoes by simply smiling.
“Taking the facial-recognition payment technology offline was no easy task,” said Jidong Chen, the 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.”
So, unfortunately, that means you can’t wear a Nicolas Cage mask to the Smile-for-Pay KFC and have your colonel’s chicken come out of his bank account. The algorithm can detect shadows and other features to determine whether the person is actually a person and not a crash test dummy or wearing a Nic Cage mask.
Ali Pay has kindly provided a demonstration video to show how the system works:
The video shows how this one woman puts on a variety of different appearances with different levels of makeup and wigs and the system each and every time recognized who the person was in spite of that. So if you were going to go to the KFC down the street dressed like Dana Carvey in The Master of Disguise, well, you’re still out of luck.
And the KFC location testing out this tech isn’t actually a KFC; it’s a “K Pro” store, which sells salad, juices, paninis and other healthy items for millennials who think biscuits, gravy, and fried chicken aren’t cool enough.
One day at a McDonald’s near you, there will inevitably be “Smile-to-Pay” technology, allowing you to smile and pay for your Big Mac without incident if it’s really possible to smile when you order a Big Mac.