If you’re feeling too comatose to form the words required to order your usual morning latte, one Australian coffee shop owner has some great news that just might revolutionize the coffee shop experience as we know it.
After trying and failing to memorize the names and orders of his regular customers at Bahista Cafe in Sydney using sheer brainpower, owner Geoff Cropley decided to turn to tech. When he realized that existing facial recognition solutions were prohibitively expensive, Cropley decided to partner with developer John MacLean and build something of his own: “I searched the world for a low-cost face recognition [system] and there was nothing out there, all the solutions were multi million-dollar ones. So I went about creating what we have today,” he told Sydney Morning Herald.
Two years later, NoahFace, an app that fuses facial recognition with customer loyalty, was born. One iPad facing customers scans their biometric data, while another iPad facing Bahista staff returns their name, rewards points balance, and go-to order. The end result is a streamlined system that achieves Cropley’s goal of more easily remembering customers while also speeding up sales.
Of course, Bahista doesn’t force its customers to compromise their privacy for a cup of coffee. "We have a large sign at the point of sale which says we may record their biometric data for customer service and if they don't want to be part tell us and we won't put them in," Cropley says. "We are very open and frank that we have this program."
Despite the ability to opt out, the numbers show that NoahFace has a positive impact on the bottom line. Since launching back in July of 2016, Cropley claims the new system has boosted business by 37 percent, equal to roughly $1.2 million in additional sales. Naturally, those sorts of numbers have generated some buzz in the coffee biz in Australia and beyond. The technology has been licensed to cafes in Adelaide and Brisbane, and the app’s recently attracted more than $1 million in seed funding, with Toby’s Estate founder Toby Smith among the initial investors.
For now, Cropley plans to apply the same underlying biometric tech to new areas of Bahista’s business, like payroll and doors that open automatically upon recognizing a face. But given that NoahFace manages to use facial recognition in a way that preserves the human element of coffee shop sales, you can bet that this sort of thing will catch on in the future.