Pudding vending machine tells kids to scram
December 22, 2011
Let's say you had a sweet dessert that you wanted to market specifically to adults. Now to spice things up, let's say you're also a Scooby Doo villain and can't stop wringing your hands over all the "meddling kids" who are going to ruin your campaign trying to steal delicious treats from your intended audience. Well, what can you do about it? Make a vending machine that detects the age of its users and tells any approaching children to get lost? Apparently yes, as Kraft Foods has introduced a new machine that scans a person's face to determine their age and dispenses free samples of their Jell-O Temptations dessert only to adults.
When over $1 billion is being sunk into food sampling each year, companies want to make sure the product is reaching the right customer. To that end, Kraft Foods is rolling out a new sampling machine in Chicago and New York City to distribute its pudding-like Jell-O Temptations desserts that can detect whether the customer is a child or a grown-up. Developed by Intel, the machine uses a special camera to scan a person's face to measure features such as the distance between eyes and ears and determine their age. If it detects a child, it shuts down and asks the child to move aside for a more deserving adult, basically acting as a cold, unfeeling stand-in for every child's mother. No word on whether the machine advises children to "come back when you're older, kid" or "when you get a job, you can have all the pudding you want."
Kraft's goal of course is to ensure its samples are reaching their target demographic, but also hopes the odd machines will draw in consumers as well. According to Charlotte Maumus, PR rep for Kraft:
"Temptations is the first Jell-O dessert made just for adults, so it makes sense that this breakthrough technology dispenses free samples to adults only. Showcasing the future of how consumers could interact with products and sample more easily, if the machine detects a child, it will shut down, asking the child to step away from the machine. But if it detects an adult, then a tasty sample is dispensed."
It's probably a good measure to prevent unmonitored children from taking more than their fair share of pudding cups, but there's definite potential for at least one super villain to be born out of this.