There are two kinds of people in this world. Those that queue patiently at the bar for their drinks because they recognize their place in the great order of things, and those that elbow their way to the front and jump the queue because they're massive jerks. If you're the latter, I see you, pal. And now, thanks to AI, so does the bartender.
British data science company DataSparQ has developed a bit of kit that uses facial recognition technology to put customers in an "intelligently virtual" queue, letting bar staff know who really was next, and who's just being rude. The technology has been on trial at 5cc Harrild & Sons bar in London, where bartender Luka Kovijanić says, "The regulars were a bit sceptical at first, but as soon as they saw it in action, they were sold. It enables us to maximise our pouring potential and cuts out the need for sharp elbows when it's busy."
The system works by displaying a live video of everyone queuing on a screen above the bar. A number appears above each customer's head -- which represents their place in the queue -- and gives them an estimated wait time until they get served. Bar staff will know exactly who's next, helping bars and pubs to maximise their ordering efficiency and to keep the drinks flowing. The AI Bar also comes with automatic age verification, so if a punter looks underage they'll be prompted to get their ID out before they reach the head of the queue. User data is deleted locally and from the cloud at the end of every night.
According to DataSparQ, the system has the potential to save UK queuing time equivalent to pouring 78 million pints, and could make a significant dent in the average two months each Brit spends waiting for drinks in their lifetime. The technology also provides data insights to bar managers on drinking patterns and peak times, to help them optimize their staffing requirements.
Of course, this system isn't just a boon for the patient martyr (hi), but stands to make the whole drinks-procuring process less stressful for women and people on their own. As 5cc Harrild & Sons regular Katherine Rees points out, "I always hate it when I'm in at the bar and groups of rowdy guys push in front of me. I shouldn't have to get into a confrontation with strangers just to order a drink. With this new technology that's something I never have to worry about again."
Other features in the pipeline include automatic re-ordering, and even a "FaceTab," which would only allow people with certain faces to order drinks on that tab. The set-up requires a standard webcam, display screen and internet connection, and will cost landlords from £199/$240 -- a reasonable sum that most regulars would happily stump up if it meant queue jumpers faced the indignity of being literally put in their place by a machine.
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