China’s largest search engine, Baidu, and fast food restaurant chain KFC announced on Monday the launch of a concept store named “KFC Original+” in Shanghai. The store will feature Baidu’s robotic personal assistant Duer, whose voice interaction, smart food-ordering and holographic projection capabilities will be employed to serve customers. This is the first time that Duer will work in a commercial setting.
Introduced to the public at the Baidu World Congress 2015, Duer is an integration of Baidu’s AI technologies such as voice recognition and intelligent search. The AI software powering the robotics is already built into Baidu’s mobile app. Duer will use KFC’s customer behavior data to gain a better understanding of users’ needs and improve business efficiency.
For customers visiting the store, they can experience ordering and paying for food by speaking directly to Duer. Additionally, Duer can use its holographic imaging technology to show people how KFC’s dishes are made.
Wang Haifeng, VP of Baidu, said that the application of Duer is the realization of Baidu’s efforts to connect people with information and services. He also said that, though it will still take time for Duer to integrate into other commercial settings, with a priority on enhancing its secretarial services, the cooperation with KFC is expected to generate a reference point for future developments.
Based on Baidu’s business ecosystem that covers sectors including dining, film, tourism, education, and healthcare, Duer may be a big part of the company’s application of more AI technology into fields that range from internet financing to driverless cars, Wang also said.
(Top photo from Baidu)