Dundas, Ont., restaurant installs thermal and mask kiosk for employees and patrons
‘We thought it would be an interesting way [to do] the temperature and mask checks,’ owner says
A Dundas restaurant has announced its newest team member, a thermal and mask kiosk named Janus, to help the business wade through the uncomfortable realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The technology is a standalone, touchless pedestal and monitor that audibly welcomes guests while simultaneously checking body temperature and if the person is wearing a mask or not.
"When the technology was introduced to us … we thought it would be an interesting way [to do] temperature and mask checks that we had to do anyway," Fraser MacFarlane, part owner and chef at Quatrefoil Restaurant, told CBC Hamilton.
"We thought it would be an interesting little thing to introduce to our customers."
MacFarlane said while customers were initially curious and had questions about the technology, the overall response has been positive.
"We are pretty upfront with [our customers]. It has been working really well, reading temperatures. Most people come in with the mask on. They know the mask protocols that are in place now, so that hasn't really been an issue."
Part owner Georgina Mitropoulos said while it was never the plan to install this sort of technology at the restaurant, they needed to adapt to some new realities or the business may suffer further than it already has.
"We feel this technology gives our patrons peace of mind that the staff and other customers dining here are following basic public health guidelines," Mitropoulos said.
Janus has been configured to instantly monitor body temperature and welcome patrons into the establishment if temperature readings are below 37.3 C. That is the body temperature threshold outlined by the government of Canada's public health guidelines, based on World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.
If Janus detects a customer with a high temperature, the device will audibly ask the person to 'please wait for assistance from a staff member'. At this point, the process will be done again, leaving the final decision up to the staff member whether to permit entrance.
Janus also features facial recognition technology that alerts for non-compliance of mask wearing requirements. If a mask is not present, or even if it is not positioned on the face properly, Janus will politely ask the customer to 'please wear a mask'. If both requirements are met (temperature and mask), the system will display a big green checkmark and say 'welcome to Quatrefoil'.
Janus is also being customized to take and manage reservations. It can also be used in-house for accurate staff time logs and has reporting capabilities to help managers/operators understand and analyze data about capacity, reservation trending, and more.
System can be configured for facial recognition
Brantford based Solutions into Motion, better known for its two GPS brands — Trackem and WhereSafe — is the company behind the Janus technology.
President Vince Poloniato said it is customizable, making it perfect for many different restaurant environments and needs.
"The system does not collect data, unless during the setup process, they choose to collect images from those files. For the most part it just does a simple check," Poloniato told CBC Hamilton.
"If they are using it as an access control system, which it can do, when it recognizes someone it will unlock and open the door, then it will use facial recognition, at which point it uses the images."
Poloniato said Janus is currently configured to serve the needs of most public venues.
"Our next phase with this technology is to better leverage the data it can collect and integrate with external systems, such as reservations systems, access controls and more," he said.
No immediate security risk
Aaron Mauro, assistant professor of digital studies at Brock University's Centre for Digital Humanities, says he doesn't foresee any immediate security risk for individuals whose faces are scanned by the technology at Quatrefoil Restaurant.
"The kiosk can be used for restaurants to measure temperature of patrons. In this case, I don't see any reason for collecting personal information beyond a masked image of the individual and the temperature data," Mauro wrote in an email to CBC News.
"It is creepy to collect images of people, but I don't think there is an immediate security risk. There is likely still a greater risk in actually just going for dinner during a global pandemic."