Big Sister Is Planning Your Dinner

When I first read about a new device that scans your face and then suggests which products you might want to put on the family dinner table that night, an oxymoron worthy of an Austin Powers movie immediately crossed my mind: diabolically brilliant. And that's just the cookie around the filling. Having sized you up as a sure-fire sugar and cocoa addict, it can spit out a few Oreos just to make your acquaintance.

Fast Company's Linda Tishler has a fascinating piece about the Kraft Meal Planning Solution, which was part of Intel's two-story, 2,400 square-foot Connected Store concept that made its debut at the National Retail Federation BIG Show in New York last week. It combines Intel's new AIM Suite video analytics technology powered by the Core i5 processor with Kraft's recipe database to lasso consumers wandering by, make a demographic assessment by scanning his or her face, and then offering recommendations for dinner using, of course, Kraft brands.



In a short video posted to YouTube earlier this month, Donald King, vp of retail experience at Kraft, laid out the rationale for the Food Planner.

"This tool will delight shoppers by helping them prepare delicious, nutritious meals for their families, will help retailers engage consumers in a unique way to increase basket size and also to increase store visits and it will be filled with proprietary content to provide an infotainment experience for consumers in the store."

As a consumer, I did a quick calculation in my head. Increased basket size + increased store visits = increased girth. But that doesn't mean I'm not fascinated by the technology behind this top-down approach to the family meal. Like I said, it's diabolically brilliant. Explains King to Tishler in a video accompanying the piece:

"The average consumer has a catalogue of about 10 recipes that he or she is familiar with to make for their families. Additionally, the average consumer enters the store and 70% of the time not exactly sure what they're going to make for dinner that very evening."

So, after determining the subject's age and gender, the software determines a likely menu based on options such as weekday meal or Football Sunday Party. Then there are options within the options, such as "Healthy Living" or "Manager's Specials." And once you've got the ingredients, you can download them to your smartphone's shopping list by scanning the barcode.

In a flyer for the trade, Intel outlines five "unique" attributes of the technology:

  • Vending Machine/Digital Signage Integration. You can integrate digital signage capabilities with the functionality of a vending machine.
  • Mobile Integration. Consumers using Kraft's iFood Assistant app, for example, can add recipes and shopping lists to their mobile phones via a barcode scanner. Retailer's POS and loyalty card programs can also be tied in.
  • Sampling and Conversion Capabilities: Consumers can choose from a series of recipe options, download whatever is chosen and then get a shopping list of ingredients sent to their smartphones, as well as obtain samples. They can also opt-in to receive future marketing promotions.
  • Accountability and Metrics: The Anonymous Video Analytics (AVA) technology compiles audience measurement data: how many people interacted with the display/vending machine, for how long, their gender, age and time of day. You can measure ROI as well as adapt content based on factors such as who is most likely to pass by or what time of day it is.
  • Language Customization: At present, it's also available in Spanish.

In another recently posted video, Jose Avalos, Intel's director of retail and digital signage, talks about the Connected Store in general and the way that a watch company uses the Aim Suite, in particular, to market male watches to males and female watches to females at an interactive kiosk. In this case, presumably, no free samples are involved.

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