Pizza Hut restaurants are launching a creepy new interactive menu which will watch patrons’ eyes to determine what they’d like on their pies.
Touting the automated menu as “the future of dining,” the pizza chain says they “have developed the world’s first Subconscious Menu” as a “unique way to reinvent the dining experience.”
The quizzical innovation, developed by Swedish eye-tracking pioneer Tobii Technologies, calibrates with a customer’s retinas, tracks users’ eye movements, then uses an algorithm to suggest what it thinks will be the perfect order.
The Daily Mail breaks down the process in further detail:
The four-step process starts when the software detects the users retina and gaze by asking customers to randomly look at different circles.
Eye movements are tracked against the small marks on the screen.
The software then detects the gaze of the user by changing the logos on the interface from big to small.
This is then followed by ingredients tracking, where the user is given three seconds to look at 20 ingredients on the screen.
The algorithm then kicks in and the menu identifies the perfect pizza based on which ingredients the user has been looking at the longest.
While on the surface the order-taking app seems harmless, keen diners are already drawing comparisons between the invasive and wholly unnecessary technology and the surveillance state backdrop featured in George Orwell’s 1984, in addition to the omnipresent police state depicted in the screen adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report.
“This is the sort of technology that could be used to bust people for ‘thought crimes,’” says Youtube commenter Greg Gallacci, speculating that “Some psychologist is going to come up with a ‘test’ based on looking at ‘good’ images while avoiding ‘bad’ images.”
“Gaze too often, or too intently at the wrong sort of image,” Gallacci predicts, “and you are considered dangerous to society.”
“This is not a good thing,” he adds, also suggesting that the technology is being integrated as a means of acclimating society to embrace a future where eye-tracking may be more pervasive.
“Wow our pizza is even getting Orwellian,” another commenter noted. “Fu**ing creepy.”
Indeed, allowing Pizza Hut to scan your eyes could potentially give the company much more than simply a pizza order.
Research into the field of eye tracking has led to the successful interpretation of human emotions, for instance, as well as the ability to diagnose a wide range of health issues – all made possible by studying the retina, eye gaze patterns and pupil size variation, adding a whole other marketable dimension to be exploited.
A possible future scenario may play out as follows: “You look tired. Would you like to add a Coke to your order to put some pep in your step?”
Without the right privacy guidelines in place, personal data could possibly be auctioned off to the highest bidder, or could be stored in a database for later use.
Tobii Technology is also one of several companies working to make in-car eye detection a reality, a “solution” with the alleged goal being to rid the roadways of tired or distracted drivers.
In reality, vehicle and restaurant gaze detection would both be major victories for Big Brother’s all-seeing surveillance panopticon.