Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sound advice or more poor eating choices?

So it would seem that food company Kraft is working on developing a vending machine that is capable of viewing your face and recommending food choices.

I wonder how smoothly this would really go. As a person who can be very indecisive about dinner I like the idea of something that can make suggestions. However I'm a bit curious about what it would go on to make a suggestion with.

So, when he or she passes by the kiosk, the digital signage, equipped with a freaky sort of Anonymous Video Analytics technology, zooms in on his or her face and instantly determines gender and age group to guess what products might exert some allure

First while I can see age as being pretty easy for a computer to pick up on I'm a bit lost on how a computer can scan a face and determine its gender (and that's not even getting to people who don't bother with the whole gender binary thing). But even past all that I'm curious to know what it would suggest.

Would the machine scan the face of a 20 year old guy and recommend hot pockets (meaning would the machine just follow the presumption that 20 year old guys don't know how to cook and only want microwave junk food)? Perhaps it will pick up a 40 year old woman and provide a recipe for lasagna (meaning would the machine just assume that as an adult woman she must know how to cook)?

I'm just not seeing how this machine can scan a face and possibly account for all sorts of factors like being vegetarian or vegan, being lactose intolerant, not eating certain (or no) meats for religious/cultural reasons, etc...

But now that I think about it more than likely it will be a case of the machine scanning your face for the first time then having you set up some sort of account where you can tweek those settings. But even beyond that I have one other question.

Considering that this vending machine is being made by a major corporation that traffics some rather unhealthy foods can we really trust it to recommend food options that actually are good for you or will we be subjected to a continuous stream of Kraft product placements? Will this thing point us to fresh fruits, veggies, and meats or will it have us just going for the Kraft processed foods instead of the Proctor and Gamble processed foods?

I wonder how it will turn out.