Starbucks is getting ready to let customers place their orders by phone – and not by calling in. The company has announced a ‘virtual barista’ AI system that will respond to voice and text commands when it comes to ordering.
As AppleInsider reports, the company says the system can understand complex orders for multiple items, and will ask questions to clarify orders when necessary. It is currently trialing the system with a thousand beta testers in the US, and it expected to launch a full rollout of the system on iOS this summer, with an Android version to follow later.
It’s another example of the growing importance of voice-based user interfaces, and of the AI technology supporting them. Starbucks’ system is not going to be anywhere near as intelligent as Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa – the latter of which can already place an order for a customer’s usual victuals through devices like the Echo – but it will understand what a user means by “venti, sugar-free, half-caf, non-fat, light whip white mocha frappe,” even if most of the rest of us don’t.