Hitchikers' Guide gadget becomes real
Intel and Kraft have involved a "smart" vending machine that analyses users' age and gender so that they can trial people's interest in new products.
The iSample is being used to offer customers trials of a new dessert it means that the product can be tailored to the shopper, and exclude children from the adult-focused promotion. Intel says it intends to retrofit the technology to existing vending machines to allow companies to study what type of people are buying their products.
The machine uses an optical sensor fitted to the top of the machine to recognise the shape of the human face. A computer processor then carries out a series of calculations based on measurements such as the distance between the eyes, nose and ears.
This works out the sex of the shopper and place them in one of four age brackets. This data is then used to determine what, if any, product the shopper should be served.
It is not quite sure why it does this, because it always servers up something which is not "almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea." Actually it does not serve tea, but otherwise it is identical to the annoying vending machine which almost kills Arthur Dent in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.