Universal Studios park in China to have facial recognition tech

ans get ready to enter Hogsmeade at the Grand Opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter" at Universal Studios Hollywood, in Universal City, California. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 October 2019

Universal Studios park in China to have facial recognition tech

BEIJING: The Universal Studios amusement park under construction in Beijing will admit visitors without a ticket — thanks to cameras that will scan their faces to determine if they’ve paid for entry.
The technology is part of a host of services owned by Chinese Internet giant Alibaba that will be integrated into Universal’s park, the companies announced at a press event in Beijing on Thursday.
Inside the park, facial recognition cameras linked to Alibaba’s Alipay electronic payment platform will allow visitors to open storage lockers, pay for meals and join express queues for rides.
Facial recognition technology is gaining traction across China, where it is being used for everything from supermarket checkouts to surveillance.
While researchers have warned of the privacy risks associated with gathering facial recognition data, consumers have widely embraced the technology.
“There is no more seamless way to enjoy what we’re building than using the Alibaba technology,” said Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast, which owns Universal.

Alibaba, which rose to prominence as an online shopping company, has in recent years invested intensively in entertainment and tourism.
The company’s Alipay app is widely used in China alongside rival WeChat Pay as an alternative to cash.
Universal’s Beijing park, which will feature characters from Hollywood blockbusters like Harry Potter and Kung Fu Panda, was first announced in 2014 after receiving approval from China’s top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission.
Construction is under way in the Chinese capital’s Tongzhou suburban district and the park is expected to open its gates in 2021.
Visitors who don’t wish to have their faces scanned will still have other ways of getting into the park and paying for food and merchandise, Universal staff told AFP.
The Beijing amusement park, part of a larger resort that will include three hotels, will be competing for the Chinese market against Shanghai’s Disneyland, which opened in June 2016.


Popeyes flexes its muscles in China as KFC feels the heat

Updated 57 min 24 sec ago

Popeyes flexes its muscles in China as KFC feels the heat

  • Popeyes signed a lease in Shanghai for its first store in China on Monday

SHANGHAI: US fried chicken chain Popeyes wants to become the top chicken brand in China, the chief executive of its parent company said on Tuesday, as it prepares to take on KFC, the leading player in the world’s most populous market.

Popeyes signed a lease in Shanghai for its first store in China on Monday, which is expected to open next year.

The company outlined plans in July to build 1,500 restaurants in China in the coming decade, becoming the last of Toronto-based Restaurant Brands International Inc’s main brands to enter the country.

By contrast, Yum China’s KFC has about 6,300 stores. Yum has said that it is acutely aware there is more opportunity to expand in China, noting that while it was in 1,300 Chinese cities, there are still as many as 800 cities without a KFC store.

Popeyes’ July plan was “just really to put a framework on the short-term potential business,” Jose Cil, RBI’s CEO said in an interview in Shanghai.

“I think we can be the No. 1 chicken brand here in China and all around Asia,” he said, adding that consumers in the region were looking for options. He dismissed concerns that a slowing China economy and trade tensions had dimmed prospects for growth in the long term.

Cil’s remarks comes as the Cajun-inspired fast food chicken chain experiences a surge in popularity in the US after a newly launched fried chicken sandwich went viral on social media.

Demand was such that Popeyes had to stop taking orders after only two weeks before relaunching it this month.

The sandwich will also be offered in China, he said.

Cil noted that RBI’s other two main brands had seen rapid growth in China.

Burger King has expanded to around 1,100 stores in China from less than 100 in 2012. “We think we’ll keep growing at a steady pace,” Cil said.

And Tim Hortons, its Canadian coffee chain, just opened its 28th store in China after launching there in February.

“We are preparing ourselves to be able to accelerate growth in the coming years,” Cil said of
the brand.