A new sample-dispensing machine being rolled out in Chicago by Kraft Foods uses a facial-scanning camera to gauge the age (and sex) of a prospective sample recipient -- and deny the sample to those who don't fit the target audience.
The machine, from Intel, is being used to dispense samples of Jell-O's Temptations desserts, which are targeted to adults, reports USA Today. If the machine determines that a prospective user is a child, it asks the child to step away; if it's an adult, the sample is dispensed.
Given that the food/beverage industry spends about $1 billion annually on sampling, this could turn out to be a major innovation (although tech guru Seth Godin, for one, labeled it a "goofy gimmick").
"This is intelligent marketing," said Ed Kaczmarek, Kraft's dirctor of innovation and consumer experiences. "We're making certain we get the right sampel to the right consumer."
The machine analyzes, compares and stores facial metrics (such as the distance between eyes or ears, which apparently helps indicate age). But it doesn't capture individual photos or videos.
Next step? Determining if the recipient smiles after receiving his or her sample, said Intel retail sector worldwide director Jose Avalos.