Expert opinions, TECHNOLOGY

How artificial intelligence powers restaurant industry

Just a while ago, digital menus and Zoom dinner parties seemed superfluous. But the pandemic has triggered the emergence of new trends and such consumer wants have become a routine. A contactless world is now a reality we live in.


The COVID-19 pandemic has stricken a major blow at the restaurant industry: in 2020, according to the Russian Federal Service for State Statistics, Russian restaurant market lost 20.7%. On the other hand, the coronavirus has given a boost to the rampant development of the business and sped up the introduction of artificial intelligence technologies in this field. In the post-pandemic world, restaurant owners use AI to deal with a wide range of tasks, from marketing to personnel management. AI helps to streamline the company’s expenses, analyze financial performance, calculate the number of shifts and even monitor guests’ mood.

Many companies currently invest in artificial intelligence solutions to increase sales and streamline interaction with clients. Computer vision is becoming one of the main technologies of the future. It is being introduced everywhere, especially in retail and catering where it helps to work with reams of data.

China has made the most progress in using computer vision solutions, planning to make artificial intelligence a leading driver of the development of the national economy. Five years ago, it made a real technological breakthrough in catering by opening a smart KFC restaurant that employed facial recognition to make recommendations about what customers might order based on their gender, age and order history. The project was implemented together with the telecom giant Baidu. At that time, hardly anybody could expect that the computer vision-based analytics would become popular even among small players.

In another tech empire, the US, McDonald’s employed a similar solution in 2019, purchasing the Israeli-based startup DynamicYield whose artificial intelligence solution was installed in digital menus. The system provided personalized offers to customers based on the weather, time, restaurant traffic and other factors.

It should be noted that AI is not only helping to improve customer experience: the technology is extensively used for business scale-up as well. For instance, the US platform analyzes pedestrian traffic and other anonymized data to offer the best locations for opening a new shop or restaurant to clients. Video analytics serves for consulting and offering best locations for launch of public catering facilities.

Yet, this is only one of its available functions. can also analyze customer traffic at restaurants, which allows identifying target audience and its average income, and predicting the efficiency of a seasonal menu.

Today, computer vision methods serve as the basis for video analytics, which aims at automated data acquisition from video cameras in real time. Ivideon has been creating cloud-based video surveillance systems for over a decade; they are particularly extensively used in the restaurant industry.

Our solutions allow market players to build a technology ecosystem for security as well as for business optimization. We offer Ivideon Analytics, a tool for video analytics module portfolio, for measuring KPIs through providing remote access to any video camera from all devices.

In addition, our solutions provide integration with enterprise software systems, including access control systems, security, fire alarm and CRM systems, which are also very relevant for the public catering industry. Our services are generally attractive to fast-growing companies that require easy scale-up and the opportunity to connect the service to the client’s available systems and new facilities.

Our scope of services also includes facial recognition, a particularly important technology for the public catering. The system helps clients avoid frauds and monitor suspicious cash transactions. It can also make the so-called ‘black lists’ of visitors; in case a blacklisted person enters the restaurant, the system will instantly make a notification to the administrator or security officer.

Video surveillance and analytics help businesses implement their most ambitious plans. One of our clients, a major pizzeria chain, decided to make their kitchen open 24/7 to provide maximum transparency for visitors. We installed CCTV cameras in hot shops, right above dough rolling stations — this allowed for nonstop video streaming from each pizzeria’s kitchen, with anyone able to watch it simply by visiting the pizzeria’s site from a mobile device.

By Zaur Abutalimov, Product Director, Ivideon

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