Fast food franchise KFC has long relied upon its secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices for its success, but the restaurant is making a break from tradition with its new technological-driven concept store in Shanghai.
Located at the National Exhibition and Convention Center, the design of the concept restaurant is a collaboration between KFC and Baidu to provide customers with a fully-realized experience in today’s digital society.
Called “Original+” as a reference to the brand’s traditional recipe, the restaurant features a robot artificial intelligence called “Dumi” that serves customers by taking their orders through voice commands.
Dumi’s voice recognition is sophisticated enough to handle customers changing their orders and making substitutions by “learning” from its interactions, but its makers admit the robot has trouble distinguishing between certain dialects and accents.
For the time being, Dumi can’t understand orders made in English or in the local dialect, Shanghainese.
First debuting last year, Dumi is the culmination of ten years of research and development into artificial intelligence by Baidu. Dumi is said to appear soon in other real-world environments, although Baidu has not provided any specific details.
The Original+ KFC store also has other features that can cater to customers through modern technology.
Customers can pay for their purchases on their phone using mobile payment services such as Alipay, Tenpay, and Baidu Wallet. Furthermore, the concept store has a wireless charging station for mobile phones that also doubles as a music listening station which can be accessed through a QR code.
The Original+ concept store was kicked off April 25 with an appearance by Chinese popstar Lu Han touting the abilities of the Dumi artificial intelligence.
Other KFC stores are offering other technological features for their customers. In Shenzhen, the first of a number of planned “QQ” KFC stores allows customers to pay for their order using the popular text-messaging system.
McDonald’s has already unveiled its “Create Your Taste” line of restaurants in China that allow patrons to customize their own sandwich creations through touchscreen menus and pay for them using mobile payment systems, all while enjoying free WiFi and cellphone charging stations. Additionally, McDonald’s has debuted its “McDonald’s Next” line of restaurants in Hong Kong that feature modern designs with industrial and minimalist themes.