Noise reduction technology

Why Voice Recognition is the Ideal Touchless Technology Solution for the Kiosk Industry

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By Laura Tate, VP Marketing

Over the past year, touchless technology has become more prevalent — especially in using interactive kiosks. The pandemic has undoubtedly sped up this need. However, COVID-19 is not the only factor driving the kiosk industry to explore touchless technology.

Voice user interface offers many perks for businesses that employ interactive kiosks. One being granting customers a more seamless and less-intrusive buying experience. 

Touchless retail, for example, is becoming more popular for customers and retailers alike. Retailers are seeking ways to allow customers to shop easily while feeling safe. Customers want to shop as they used to, but without human interaction. Providing touchless technology addresses hygiene while providing expedited service.

Keep reading as we examine the various touchless technologies available to the kiosk industry and why voice recognition technology may be the answer to providing the ultimate customer UX experience in kiosks.

Existing Kiosk Touchless Technologies

A fully contactless kiosk doesn’t require users to touch screens to communicate. Businesses can use several technologies to limit their customers’ physical contact with kiosks. 

Facial Recognition

Facial recognition is a relatively new touchless technology option for kiosks. Fast-food chain Caliburger in the U.S. has employed facial recognition customers to place orders. 

To use facial technology with Caliburger kiosks, the customer must submit a photo ID. Upon return visits, the machine’s software accesses a user profile by scanning the customer’s face. The customer can select from their recent orders, favorites, or other saved preferences. Customers can also pay using facial recognition software. 

KFC in China is also using facial recognition software to let customers place and pay for orders. The artificial intelligence system also predicts what a customer might like by predicting their “age and mood.”

The downside of retail kiosks using facial recognition is that people do not trust it. A study showed that 81% of those surveyed say biometric data misuse concerns them. Reliability is also a problem. The smart KFC kiosk in China failed to remember customers' preferences. 

Foot and Gesture Navigation 

If customers don't want to give up their biometric data to use interactive kiosks, they might feel comfortable using their feet.

Kiosk Innovations, which provides customized transactional machines for bill payment, hotel check-in, gaming, and entertainment, developed technology that allows consumers to use foot pedals or hand gestures to interact and make transactions.

The hands-free navigation technology allows end-users to pedal up, down, forward, backward, and enter and select. They can do the same with hand gestures. 

While unique, the technology is limiting, and users may find it difficult and time-consuming to navigate, similar to using TV remote buttons to enter individual letters in searches.

QR or Barcodes

QR codes are another simple way to operate kiosks hands-free. Users can scan a QR code to turn their phone into a remote that navigates the screen. 

Businesses can use QR codes to provide essential information or direct users to websites.

United Airlines introduced a fully contactless check-in kiosk at the London Heathrow Airport in July 2020. Customers check-in from the airline's app. Then, they scan their mobile or printed boarding passes at the kiosk to check any bags. Travelers can also self-scan their codes at gate readers to board the plane.

Voice Recognition

Voice recognition technology has proven useful in reducing or eliminating contact with kiosks. Users can navigate kiosk applications with their voice as an alternative to touch or other methods. 

Voice recognition technology processes speech in a couple of ways. It leverages preloaded responses or connects to the cloud and other resources available. Alternatively, it responds according to learned behaviors and previous interactions.

Quick-serve restaurant heavyweights like Sonic and McDonald's are already implementing AI-powered voice ordering. Sonic partnered with MasterCard kiosk vendor ZIVELO to test AI drive-thru interactive kiosks. The drive-thru kiosks could use voice imprints to recognize return customers to use with loyalty programs, process payments, make recommendations, and other features.

Early trials have focused on the drive-thru experience. However, in-store kiosks can adopt the same technology.

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Challenges with Current Touchless Technology

If touchless technology options are so groundbreaking, why aren’t they used everywhere? 

Often it’s because the technology isn't dependable enough for all industries to trust it. 

The success of implementing touchless technology depends on its accuracy. It also depends on the ability of consumers to use it. They must speak clearly or move in a well-defined manner for it to work correctly. 

Accessibility plays a part in these limitations. Individuals with visual impairments depend on screen readers to consume content on screens. The front-end audible information must also be precise enough for the user to understand screen information and what comes next. 

For most touchless voice technology to work correctly, there must be little background noise. This is an impossibility for some businesses. A noisy environment goes hand-in-hand with some industries, such as airports. Most will struggle to adopt these new technology trends without alternative solutions.

Why Voice Recognition is the Ideal Solution for Interactive Kiosks

While many of the above touchless technologies are innovative, many do not go beyond singular uses. Voice interaction can take care of all necessary kiosk transactions, from information gathering to ordering, paying, and way-finding. 

Voice recognition technology can also complement existing kiosk integrations—there is no need to replace other interactive abilities.

Voice recognition in touchless technology addresses all areas of concern regarding interactive kiosks: hygiene, efficiency, and ease of use.

Imagine traveling with children, holding on to luggage, and trying to input information on a touchscreen device. By using voice recognition, customers can avoid the hassle of manually inputting it. 

Businesses can use voice recognition technology to limit the physical contact users have with kiosks, keeping them safe and providing ease of use. 

In a post-COVID-19 world, many industries will adopt touchless kiosks to restrict interaction and limit the spread of germs. Adding voice AI technology to the mix helps maximize the touchless experience.

The ability to issue voice commands is beneficial for those with disabilities that affect their dexterity or mobility. Physically impaired users can enter data and direct interactive kiosk navigation with voice interaction. 

Improving Voice Recognition for Ideal Touchless Technology

Companies aiming to introduce contactless interactive kiosks face several challenges. For one, companies must factor in the comfort level of customers using the kiosks. 

Ease-of-use is a concern and privacy. In a recent Adobe survey, 81% had privacy concerns with voice technology. User experience challenges frustrated 79% of these respondents. Customers worry that voice recognition software won't process their commands correctly.

Lack of accuracy in recognizing accents and other speech patterns might also limit the voice technology market growth.

Engineers did not design voice technology with children in mind. Unlike adults, children can't modify their requests by speaking more clearly.

Voice technology must develop to reduce background noise, enhance speech recognition, and provide precise speech transcription.

Moving Toward a Touchless Future

Touchless technology will continue to affect businesses and the everyday lives of people globally, including the kiosk industry. To adapt to new technology trends and consumer demands for safety and seamless interactions, interactive kiosk manufacturers must seek the ideal touchless technology solution.

Accurate touchless voice technology helps businesses to serve their customers better and enables employees to work smarter. Advanced voice user interface design allows kiosks to become more accessible and improve voice recognition accuracy. Accurate voice UX also builds customer trust. 

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