Wendy’s Launches Limited Edition Phone With ‘Hey Wendy’s’ Voice Assistant
The Canadian division of Wendy’s has created a custom voice assistant and branded smartphone to promote the chain. While the phones may be a gimmick, the voice assistant could last a lot longer as restaurant investment in voice AI continues to expand.
The Wendy’s phone is actually a reskinned Samsung Galaxy A11 smartphone. The difference goes deeper than the color and logo. The whole Android-based operating system has been customized, with a unique voice assistant named Wendy that responds to “Hey, Wendy” as a wake word. The voice assistant is designed to have a jocular personality and will react humorously to specific questions and tell jokes upon command. The voice assistant isn’t just for Wendy’s related tasks either. It can fulfill requests to set alarms and get directions like Google Assistant on other Android devices.
Wendy’s worked with marketing firm McCann Canada to develop the phone as a promotional tool for its new app. The restaurant is giving 20 of them away over Twitter to Canadians who download the Wendy’s app, screenshot their favorite order and tweet it with the #wendysphone hashtag.
“We’ve developed the Wendy’s phone for our Canadian fans, and it supplements our new and improved mobile app, which now allows for mobile payment and exclusive offers for the freshest food in town,” Wendy’s Canada senior director of marketing Lisa Deletroz said in a statement. “Canadians can win their very own Wendy’s phone for a limited time, ensuring they watch their favourite shows, listen to their beloved playlists and order a Frosty® and the very best burgers made with 100% Canadian fresh never frozen beef with the hottest device on the market. All they need is the Wendy’s app.”
Hungry for Voice AI
Although Wendy’s does stand out with an entirely independent voice assistant, voice assistants for restaurants are becoming more common. More common is a voice app for Alexa or Google Assistant that customers can use to order food. Canada showed more than the usual creativity before when KFC Canada worked with Amazon’s Polly technology to make a voice for KFC Canada’s Alexa skill speak like Colonel Sanders.
There’s also a big push for quick-service restaurants to make voice assistants for drive-thru restaurants. Colorado-based Valyant AI has had a steady run of success integrating a voice assistant into Denver’s Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard. The startup raised $4.5 million at the end of November and has ambitions for a much broader distribution of its tech. Popular Ohio chicken restaurant chain Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken Restaurant is augmenting its drive-thru with a voice assistant built by Israeli startup Hi Auto, while Mastercard and SoundHound have added a voice assistant to some White Castle and Sonic restaurants, combining taking drive-thru orders and processing payments on the same software. Most recently, ConverseNow closed a $15 million funding round for its drive-thru voice tech. And everyone is watching McDonald’s, which went from a single pilot restaurant with a voice assistant in 2019 to deploying its virtual server in 10 drive-thrus around Chicago with concrete plans for expansion and a lawsuit already filed against them over the voice tech.