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High-Tech Lens innovating KFC Restaurant Training

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

KFC had a vision to condense an 80-page instruction manual into an interactive video that would play on a screen the size of a fingerprint. And they did just that, by developing a Google Glass platform to explore how team members train and respond to the fast-changing restaurant environment.

Resembling an elaborate Bluetooth earpiece, Google Glass is one of the more prominent technologies driving the recent electronics trend known as "wearables" – small, inobtrusive computing devices that track, monitor, and provide dynamic information about and to its wearer.

To test Google Glass as a training tool, KFC partnered with Interapt, a mobile development and strategy firm located in Louisville, Ky. Following several months of development earlier this year, designers arrived at a platform that condensed an 80-page training guide into a Glass-based program fittingly named Vision 2020.

Co-sponsored by Yum! Brand's Chief Learning Officer Rob Lauber, the platform was intended to be a standards library with audio and video support for every function performed in the restaurant. "Our goal with the Vision 2020 project was to build a prototype that demonstrated what might be possible on the horizon," said Lauber. "It isn't so much about being a training platform as it is about the ability to provide learning at the time and place someone needs it in an easily accessible way. We have all been through training classes, online and in classrooms, where most of what we experience is not remembered only a week later. This prototype explored our ability to skip those methods and make procedures accessible on demand and hands-free."

The platform prototype consists of a series of videos that play on Google Glass, guiding a trainee through the product preparation process. As steps are completed, the trainee can simply say 'next' to advance the video. "The experience was really amazing," said Malissia Pendleton, Senior Manager for Readiness and Centralized Training for KFC. "You could actually see visually what you need to do while you were doing it."

Since testing of the device concluded in March, Lauber and Pendleton have been enthusiastic about the learnings derived from the prototype's trial run. "We were able to identify what we could do now to change the way we offer training to be more of a performance support," Pendleton remarked. "We would have never connected the dots that fast on things that we could do now had we not been involved with the prototype project."

Lauber said it's still too early to tell how adoption of Google Glass might be integrated within KFC restaurants, noting development of the platform is exploratory and meant as a learning exercise for now.

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