If you're one of those people who can make a meal of walking around the grocery store snagging free samples, there's a new machine that is poised to ruin your dinner for the foreseeable future. It's a robot called the "iSample Experience" that was developed by Kraft Foods, in conjunction with Intel Corp., and it is scary as shit. Basically, it sits in the aisle of a grocery store, invites you to come put your face up to it, and then a camera scans you and asks you to text a code (or scan a barcode with your phone) before it hands out a free food sample to you. They say it doesn't remember your phone number, but it does "develop metrics about what customers like based on age or gender." Sneaky!
It's being tested right now in New York and Chicago, but the hope is that someday it'll be in supermarkets across the country to "dispense samples of everything from Oscar Mayer deli meat to Oreos." Mmm, there's nothing more appetizing than eating a perfectly square hunk of deli meat that's been squeezed out of a robot.
The machine was originally designed to be a meal-planning tool that would scan a customer to decide which gender it was and then dispense cooking ideas, so it might give "a grilling recipe for a man." But they must have realized that made no sense, and instead they decided to use it to hand out samples. They're currently using it to promote Temptations by Jell-O, which is "the brand's first product designed specifically for adults." I'm not sure we want to know why it's only for grown-ups, so let's get back to the robot's part in all this:
The machine is equipped with technology to determine the age of the person requesting a sample. If the machine senses a child, a panel lights up with the words, "Sorry, kid. You're too young to experience indulgence like this. Please step away so the adults can get their free treat.
Smart idea to turn away the children, since we all know they never convince their parents to buy anything in the grocery store… Anyway, if that's not jerky sounding enough, this machine is also programmed to never give more than one sample per person—and it can tell if you try to pull one over on it, because it's looked into your eyes and knows everything about you. *Shudder* Suddenly those middle-aged ladies in aprons who follow you around the store urging you to try some beef jerky seem a lot less menacing.
Kraft machine scans faces, gives Jell-O samples only to adults [LA Times]
The First Sampling Experience that's Just for Adults [The Denver Egotist]