Outback Steakhouse testing camera system to track guests' experience

Big Brother is now coming to dinner. And he likes the Bloomin' Onion.

Outback Steakhouse is piloting a camera and video system that watches their guests' interactions with staff members.

The technology, from Presto Vision, is also meant to allow managers on and off site to examine video to note the cleanliness of the facility and track customers' wait times.

For now, the pilot program at Outback will focus solely on the lobby, although the potential exists for an expansion to back-of-house, curbside and dining areas. Bloomin' Brands owns and operates Outback Steakhouse. They have over 1,400 restaurants under its umbrella, including Carrabba's Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill.

Customers enter an Outback Steakhouse restaurant at the Queens Place Mall in the Queens borough of New York, U.S., on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Aaron Allen, CEO of Aaron Allen & Associates, is a consultant in the restaurant and hospitality industry. He sees this technology as part of the new norm.

"Now we can get real-time data for how long you've been in the restaurant, how long it took to place your order and get your order," Allen told FOX Business.

"You can see their age, there is facial recognition now to tell your mood, if you're happy, if you're sad, if you're upset. There is real-time technology now and the restaurant industry is just adapting to that," he said.

In a dining setting, management can address a possible situation "before the comment cards or someone makes a review online," according to Allen.

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"We expect Presto Vision to bring about a tectonic shift in the restaurant industry," Rajat Suri, founder and CEO of Presto said in a statement.

"E-commerce websites have always had detailed analytics on how customers navigate their sites, but restaurants never have had access to this information in their physical stores," Suri said. "With this product, restaurants can now have access to critical insights on how their stores actually work. This helps them provide better service, operate more efficiently, and reduce overhead."

Presto and Outback said that customer identification is not part of the surveillance and this current technology "only monitors attributes directly relevant to restaurant operations." All video data is deleted after 30 days to ensure privacy, the companies said.

The technology is already being used in other industries such as in warehouses and at toll booths to track motion and timeliness of order fulfillment. Allen likened it to a factory where efficiency and profitability can be enhanced through the studying of motion and the use of new tools to ensure the maximization of the patron’s dining experience.


"It's really getting to the point of omnipresence in terms of analytics to under operational KPI (Key Performance Indicators)," Allen said. "You can't manage it if you can’t measure it."