Outback Steakhouse Deploys New Vision Technology That Motion-Analyzes Guest And Employee Interactions

Interaction effects such as host availability, individual wait times, and customer bounce rates are measured and guest experience score forecasted.

The first comprehensive computer vision solution for restaurants is currently being piloted at Outback Steakhouse. Dubbed Presto Vision, the solution leverages pioneering technology that uses discreet cameras placed in the restaurant lobby and other areas.

Hosts, staff, guests, and other individuals are automatically tagged in real-time and their motion analyzed. Interaction effects such as host availability, individual wait times, and customer bounce rates are measured and guest experience score forecasted.

The pilot initially focuses on lobby analytics and is likely to expand to other parts of the restaurant, including back-of-house, curbside and dining areas. After a frictionless install, the product is entirely hands-off, with no need to train the staff or worry about hardware maintenance.

“Deeper guest interactions and superior hospitality are top priorities for us,” said Jeff Jones, President and CEO of Evergreen Restaurant Group, an Outback Steakhouse franchisee that operates 40 locations. “Presto Vision brings cutting edge computer vision technology to the restaurant industry for the first time in my experience. It has the potential to set new standards for service and operations at our franchise restaurants.”

The new solution is designed to enable analysis of staff and guest interactions with an incredible level of granularity. According to the company, the benefits include the following:

  • Extraction of data-driven insights on performance metrics and noteworthy events, such as excessively long waits, untidy lobbies, unavailable hosts, and customer bounce rates (i.e., the number of customers who leave without being seated or greeted)
  • Ability for managers to flag and address problems immediately, if required
  • Gathering of visual content to identify potential coaching and training opportunities
  • Remote, immediate visual access across multiple locations, and a high-level view of performance metrics and noteworthy events across brands for large restaurant chains
  • Forecasted guest experience score and potential corrective actions

Security and privacy are important aspects of the Presto Vision system, according to the company. Data captured by the cameras is stored only temporarily for the analysis and is automatically deleted after 30 days. No personally identifiable information is tracked or recorded on any individual.

The system models individuals as abstracted entities (e.g., boxes) and only monitors attributes directly relevant to restaurant operations. The computer vision technology used in Presto Vision is robust and already in use in other industries such as Amazon Go, automated toll booths, traffic monitoring, manufacturing and medical imaging.

Presto Vision is a product of restaurant solution provider Presto, which was founded in 2008 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and now based in Silicon Valley, California. The customizable platform includes powerful solutions for guests (tabletop, kiosk, mobile), servers (server handheld, wearable, line-busting tablet), and managers (analytics, computer vision, AI).

Earlier this year, as reported here, Presto secured $30 million in growth funding. Among the company’s recent innovations is AI that leverages highly granular transaction data, customer segmentation and a large volume of integrated customer surveys to provide actionable recommendations and predictive modeling to boost business. CEO Rajat Suri previously co-founded Zimride, now known as Lyft.