Big Brother Is Watching You — And He Has Ice Cream!

If you happen to be going to Cannes this summer (and, really, if you aren’t, you should be) mega-conglomerate Unilever is ready to tempt you with a treat straight out of Minority Report. The company has set up a vending machine that lets anyone who walks by score some free ice cream. The price? Just smile for the machine’s facial recognition software, which will determine your age, gender and emotion. Only the most happy will get ice cream. The rest? We don’t really know, but we seem to remember something having to do with stolen eyeballs that can be used to trick such systems.

The “Share Happy” machine can sense when it’s being approached, and “captures and measures your smile 15 times a second, and when it’s wide enough, rewards you with ice cream.” Once you hit the jackpot, you can share your winning smile with friends via Facebook. As to who Unilever’s sharing it with, and what they’re doing with it, we can only imagine. But, hey, free ice cream seems like a fair price for helping educate the smart machines and help them build their dossier, right?

Unilever Ice Cream Machine Detects Emotion and Shares Happy [MobileBehavior via ReadWriteWeb]

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  1. Baelzar says:

    Is anyone stupid enough to fall for this?

  2. AstroPig7 says:

    Actually, the iris deteriorates quickly after tissue death, so stealing someone’s eyeball doesn’t really work.

    • strathmeyer says:

      It also helps they’re scanning the blood vessels of the retina, which does not work if there is no blood pressure.

      • graylits says:

        Iris and Retina scanners are two separate technologies. Iris being the cheap knockoff to make it look like you have high-tech security.

  3. ArcanaJ says:

    Secrete dossier? For ice cream? Woohoo!

    I guess this answers the eternal questions, “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?”

  4. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    Welcome to the Dark Side…we have cookies.

  5. Southern says:

    “captures and measures your file 15 times a second, and when it’s wide enough, rewards you with ice cream.”

    NOT a grammer/spelling flame, just a question — was that supposed to be “Smile”? or maybe Profile? Or is there some meaning to “file” that I’m missing?

    • Gruppa says:

      I’m sure it’s supposed to be smile, but something about having your file captured and being rewarded with ice cream when it’s wide enough just sounds a little dirty.

    • sagodjur says:

      IS a spelling flame (friendly though). It’s spelled “grammar.” :-)

    • Marc Perton says:

      Thanks. Fixed. (Though I guess it qualifies as a Freudian slip, as I’m sure they do keep everything on file!)

  6. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Oh dear lords, when Alex Jones finds out about this…. He already claims that Levi jeans and Microsoft via Natal(which even works when it’s unplugged and has no net access!) are already scanning your biometric data in addition to the TSA, and using blimps stationed above cities, capturing your “gait” so they can have a complete biometric profile on you so they can send a predator drone to your front door.

    • Baelzar says:

      Data is the most valuable resource.

      Being able to connect a face to an identity (possibly via Facebook?) for the cost of a scoop of ice cream….

      There are already plenty of databases of purely digital information (names, addresses, phone, email, SS#, etc) and the new frontiers are DNA and facial recognition.

      • kmw2 says:

        DNA and facial recognition are hardly new frontiers, and anyone can “connect a face to an identity” via Facebook – at least, that of anyone who uses a picture of themselves as their profile pic, which is almost everyone. (A picture is plenty for many forms of facial recognition).

  7. partofme says:

    What are they capturing that can’t be captured by cameras placed elsewhere, hidden or otherwise? Sure, they benefit from the longevity of the experience and the potential range of emotion, but they can get all that if you’re a frequent visitor of any place with a suitable loss-prevention camera system. Your privacy, the locations you go, the things you spend money on, and yes, even your emotions are pretty much available to anyone with a little determination to get them. Thems the breaks in this era.

  8. MrHacks says:

    I’ll give them a “smile check”. They want to see how “happy” I am?

    *drops pants* *waves penis*

    Tell me that is not happy enough!

    • MercuryPDX says:

      I wonder if it is smart enough to discern a human face from a smiling Halloween mask….

      • MikeM_inMD says:

        I would hope they programmed it to recognize the “V for Vendetta” mask, because that’s the first one I’d test it with.

  9. daveinva says:

    The cake is a lie! The cake is a lie! The cake is…

    Oooh, ice cream!

  10. golddog says:

    Yikes. Minority Report indeed. Is their privacy policy printed in frosting on the cone?

    I can’t tell if this is some kind of social engineering, or marketing experiment. That they’re tied in to Facebook can’t be good. This is just another FB “app” that has taken form in the physical world. Skynet can’t be far behind.

  11. OSAM says:

    Nothing like a bunch of tin foil hats for you lot. Good lord, lighten up.

  12. macxprt says:

    It’s a trap!

  13. Press1forDialTone says:

    This is a no-brainer fine folks of Consumerist.
    The operative words together are “Unilever megacorporation”
    This “project” (despite its clumsy cover premise) is clearly a way to
    test technologies on a very very wide basis in order to improve
    the accuracy dramatically. Stop and think of all the good and bad
    ways superb facial recognition software/hardware could be used.
    There are thousands of applications that need it NOW. Some of them
    are evil. Some of them are not evil. But any technology that can identify
    you on the fly (and either exactly match or statistically predict your
    associated physical and demographic data), they just want to know first if they can
    accurately identify you, THEN they want to pull up all the data in the world
    on ya. Scary scary stuff very possibly. It is frightening how innocuous the
    video makes it seem. Think of the database of real faces will be built to
    help the software learn how to do its possibly nefarious job better.
    As a very astute poster said earlier: Is anybody stupid enough to fall for this?
    The answer is: Most of the world.

  14. coren says:

    I would be way too smiley if I lived in that town, getting free ice cream all the time.

  15. El-Brucio says:

    Interesting stuff. I suppose the mega-corporations are getting ready for the next technological leap in customer service that refuses to employ real humans. First we had computerized answering services, next it’s going to be computerized video chats with simulated people, and I imagine it’s important that the computer be able to register when customers are happy or angry and deliver either smiles or concern in return. .

    • Scarficus Rex says:

      That would seem to be an unnecessary level of complexity, since existing human operators do not reliably accomplish this feat.

  16. LMacConn says:

    but Smiling people need ice cream the least!

  17. smo0 says:

    It’s said when the world is becoming a place you don’t want to explore – and the impeding doom of your house not even being safe is overwhelming.

  18. Bonster says:

    Is it bad that I would probably do this? I suppose it would depend on how hot it was or how hungry I was…

  19. psm321 says:

    What about those of us who have trouble with big smiles? No ice cream? :(

  20. nodaybuttoday says:

    For FREE ice cream, I’d sell my soul…