Mashable - Augmented Reality Ice Cream Machine Trades Smiles for Free Desserts
By: Brenna Ehrlich
Customer experience company SapientNitro and ice cream makers Unilever are teaming up to train us all to smile for our just desserts — they’ve developed what they’re calling the world’s first smile-activated vending machine.
SapientNitro is currently testing out the machine at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival (the event that dude sold his soul to Twitter to attend). Apparently, the machine uses augmented reality to draw passersby into a branded world — i.e. when one looks at the screen at the front of the machine, one’s face is outfitted with mustaches and other kinds of tomfoolery.
After it prompts you to smile, the dessert-vending device measures the wideness of your grin using facial recognition technology, snaps a pic, and, with your permission, uploads that snap to Facebook (You can peruse a gallery of smiles now on Cannes Sapient Nitro’s Facebook Page). Next, you choose the free treat of your choice via the touchscreen at the front of the machine and collect your sweet reward. (Treats will only be free at Cannes.)
Both augmented reality and facial recognition have been in heavy rotation among a bevy of brands and social networking sites lately (Facebook has its share of recognition apps, and everyone from Esquire to Urbanspoon has taken a crack at augmented reality). Still, we think the social media integration is what makes this campaign interesting. Although participants have yet to tag themselves in the photos featured in the gallery, we can imagine folks adding these snaps to their Facebook galleries, thus spreading word of the vending machine virally around the web.
According to SapientNitro, these machines will roll out to high-traffic locations like shopping malls across the globe over the next 18 months, and will accept cash as well as grins for the sugary products. Will you smile for your sundae?