With the ongoing labor shortage and increase in off-premises dining, self-order kiosks and technologies that help restaurants operate more efficiently are becoming ubiquitous.
Not only do speech automated kiosks increase guest satisfaction by allowing customers to order food exactly how they want it, they boost sales by using AI to offer upsells, promote limited time offers (LTOs), and improve order accuracy. Most quick-serve restaurant kiosks work the same way: Walk up, touch the screen, and begin placing your order. But one company is taking the concept to the next level with speech-enabled kiosks that provide unique, memorable experiences specific to a brand.
Founded in 1993, NVIDIA is an accelerated computing company with roots in the graphic design industry. It works across a variety of industries including manufacturing, retail, telecommunications, healthcare, robotics, gaming and more—powering many of the world’s greenest and most powerful supercomputers. More recently, it’s branched into the restaurant industry.
“All of the challenges the restaurant business is dealing with right now—labor, food safety, staffing, and more—can be addressed with artificial intelligence,” says Scott Brubaker, director of Retail and QSR enterprise at NVIDIA.
NVIDIA’s approach to self-service kiosks is much different than what the industry has seen so far. Instead of a touch screen, these speech-enabled kiosks feature customized avatars for each restaurant client. When customers walk up to the kiosk, they are greeted by the interactive avatar, which can converse with them, ask questions about the order, and make personalized recommendations based on variables such as customer’s order history, promotional items or even the weather. Instead of touching the screen, customers simply talk with the avatar, which records the order, politely asking questions and confirming requests along the way. These lifelike avatars can look like a person, a cartoon character, the quick-service restaurant’s mascot or anything in between—whatever the client can envision, NVIDIA can make it happen.
Dubbed Omniverse Avatar, these speech-enabled kiosks use Megatron 530B, the world’s largest customizable language model, which allows the avatars to converse in many languages and understand natural speech patterns. Additionally, Omniverse Avatar uses computer vision—which, on the screen, appears as a box around the speaker’s head—to distinguish whether the customer is speaking with another person (the kids in the backseat, for example), or to the ordering screen.
“NVIDIA’s Omniverse Avatar was introduced in November 2021 and is being evaluated by some of the largest quick-service restaurants,” said Azita Martin, Vice President and GM of NVIDIA’s Retail and QSR. “The overwhelming interest from quick serves is the result of the high accuracy and engaging customer experience delivered by NVIDIA’s Omniverse Avatar.”
The more information the Omniverse Avatar’s AI models gather, the more useful they become, revealing deep operational insights which can help operators improve efficiency, address staffing shortages, and increase sales. For instance, if the same car comes through the drive thru several times a week, the system learns to recognize the license plate and act accordingly.
“AI can help operators better understand their customers,” Brubaker says. “If you have a loyalty program, you can segment customers based on demographics, location and previous purchases to make much more personalized recommendations.”
Computer vision also helps operators predict drive-thru queues to optimize staffing, predict when the food will be ready and can even detect unusual activity or behaviors inside or outside the restaurant. It can also be trained to recognize weapons—an added security feature. In addition to speech-enabled kiosks, NVIDIA offers robust customer order analytics and forecasting, which helps restaurants better manage inventory and product availability. With this technology, operators can train models faster and improve forecast accuracy by as much as 20 percent.
AI has reached maturity and has proven that it can address the rising labor cost and labor shortage for the restaurant and hospitality businesses. As Jim Cramer, host of CNBC Mad Money, said in his interview with NVIDIA’s CEO, every fast-food company CEO should call NVIDIA. They are solving a major problem for customer facing industries.
To learn more about how AI can help your restaurant, visit the NVIDIA Restaurant webpage.
By Davina van Buren