doodle on the Google homepage this morning, today is the first day of summer - a time when families pack up their cars and get away from the real world for a few days. One of the staples of the quintessential summer experience - the beloved ice cream truck - is getting a new spin this year. International brand conglomerate Unilever has introduced an interactive social kiosk that dispenses tasty treats to passers by. The fee? Ice cream lovers need only provide a smile.As seen in the
Using facial recognition technology, the kiosks, which encourage users to "Share Happy," can tell a person's age, gender and emotion. When the machine determines a person is happy and has a large enough smile, the user is rewarded with an ice cream bar. Happy users can even share their smiles online by uploading the photo to Facebook directly from the kiosk.
The kiosk is currently only available in the French city of Cannes, known for its world famous yearly film festival. As facial recognition technology evolves to become more accessible to more companies, kiosks like these are going to pop up in many more places. Augmented reality has taken advantage of the public kiosk medium for a several years, but the majority have been at auto shows and other specialized events.
I would expect that locations more generally open to the public, like shopping malls and storefronts, will start to incorporate these interactive displays more and more. AR vendors like Total Immersion have used kiosks to draw attention to shops with enhanced window shopping, and to new movies with augmented movie posters. American ad agencies are slowly catching up to the largely Europe-based AR ad market, so don't be surprised when you see shopping mall maps start to interact with you.
While this example from Unilever isn't exactly augmenting anyone's reality (except for the fact that it gives you ice cream), it is an interesting example of how these technologies are merging. These kiosks could point to an evolution of social experiences away from desktops and mobile devices as AR and related technologies mature in the near future.