McDonald's Acquires AI Voice Technology

McDonald’s is an internationally recognized billion dollar corporation that serves as the world’s largest restaurant chain by revenue—consistently serving almost 70 million customers daily in approximately 115 countries. The potential of the brand, however, spans far beyond its current position. With the advent of technology, McDonald’s is expected to grow 55% in the eventual decade, opening more stores internationally and significantly increasing the amount of individuals served. And without a doubt, artificial intelligence may play a massive role in this growth.

Specifically, the artificial intelligence prototype McDonald’s plans to pursue is named Apprente. Apprente is a powerful human-esque AI invention that can be used in the drive through to help transport information from the consumer to the employee at a much more efficient rate than before. This form of technology is called “sound-to-meaning,” and while its specific terms are patented and disclosed from the public, it is clear Apprente desires to differentiate itself from the standard AI-voice-recognition prototypes that employ “speech-to-text.” As instead of recording what the consumer says, then processing it, and then ordering their food based on their requests in a three step process, Apprente goes from speech signaling to the order right away—a one step flow.

"The company believes this provides a better approach for customer-experience-related use cases, particularly in noisy environments such as restaurants and public areas or in cases where customers tend to use colloquial, poorly structured language, resulting in low-accuracy speech recognition," Raúl Castañón-Martínez, a senior analyst at 451 Research, wrote in a recent report on voice assistants.

And with no bias, Apprente has been aiding McDonald’s in the drive through at a more improved rate than the majority of the drive through employees. Not because of their poor actions or incapabilities for service, but more so because of the wide purview of artificial intelligence in comparison to humans. It is simply more narrowly focused and confined to the menu without having to be paid or taken care of, and can still work along these drive through employees when dealing with consumers with accents or difficult-to-comprehend speech.

To McDonald’s, these improvements in technology imply exceeding the expectations of customers at a powerful extent. Having the drive through, where most of McDonald’s customers purchase from, become more efficient and quick, while having to deal with less input costs, is a win-win for McDonald’s. Crew members even become excited with the new opportunities to serve guests directly rather than having to take their orders from a small screen. Apprente successfully opens a variety of newer jobs for McDonald’s employees rather than taking their current ones away.

To continue this launch, McDonald’s is creating a tech lab with Apprente: McD Tech Labs. This investment shows a launch in McDonald’s brand - to become more than just a fast food joint and also a source for technological discovery and research. If each new invention can impact McDonald’s the same way as Apprente, it would be illogical to not continue investing and developing newer models. Therefore, McD Tech Labs emerges as a way to continue these developments, and in addition, a source for McDonald’s to further contribute to the job market by hiring a heavy supply of data scientists, engineers and programmers. There are no limits to McDonald’s technological growth.

This progression by McDonald’s is a reminder to the entire world that the limits of businesses are currently unbounded when considering the potential artificial intelligence has to improve their standings. Despite the success of not only McDonald’s, but other internationally recognized brands such as Nike, Rolex, Coca Cola and Dell, the continued employment of artificial intelligence in their businesses can expand their positions to newer heights; an expansion that would not only benefit their profits, but humanity as a whole.