Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The Haagen-Dazs Debacle

                             The Haagen-Dazs Debacle
I like to be supportive of almost any implementations of new, exciting technologies – even when I think that some are definitely “solutions in search of a problem” or the latest and greatest examples of “software that only the designer’s mother could love”, but there are limits and sometimes you see something so sad; so ill-conceived; and so poorly executed that you have to speak out just to avoid all of us toiling in these fields from being tarred and feathered with the same brush or beaten over the head with the stupid stick.

I’m very excited about the prospects of augmented reality across many different fields including education, entertainment, marketing, etc., but the recent Haagen-Dazs lid top “Concerto Timer” AR demo – available free in the Apple iTunes store [] is so awful that it’s likely to set the entire AR field back a century or two.

The premise is that you take the ice cream container out of the freezer and then you use your phone to download an app and then stand somewhere nearby and watch an AR-generated music video that appears on top of the ice cream container lid for the two minutes that Haagen-Dazs thinks you should wait for the ice cream to reach the ideal temperature for consumption.

The only thing that’s remotely smart about the whole thing is the hook to a charitable donation for honey bee research and preservation for each of the first 15,000 downloads, but frankly, I’d pay the 5 bucks directly to the charity myself just to have the time back that I wasted on the demo and a promise that I’d never have to try to watch the thing again.

Where should I start?

(1)   Who exactly is the audience and how old are they likely to be?
If anyone is experimenting with new, cool AR apps, it’s tech-savvy kids and young adults – not grown-ups.

(2)   Who thinks that kids today are listening to classical Bach violin pieces?
Bach Inventions No. 14 for violin and cello? Really? Have these guys spent too much time in the freezer?

(3)   Who waits 2 minutes for anything today – especially ice cream?
We live in an IG world – Instant Gratification. Waiting for your wine to breath might make sense after you unscrew the lid.  My ice cream melts in my mouth.

(4)   Who is going to stand anywhere for 2 minutes (like an idiot) holding your phone precisely focused on a pint of ice cream while it “tempers”?
I thought it was painful to watch paint dry. But this is much worse and you only have to watch paint dry once. Here, because the video isn’t persistent, it disappears the second you move your phone away from the lid so you have to stand like a mime (while your arm cramps up) to watch something you wouldn’t choose to watch on a bet.

(5)   Who can even see the image clearly or hear the music being played?
Using Kinect to capture the image of the performer rather than playing a clean, simple video (if you absolutely had to) was unnecessary and foolish overkill – like using a sledgehammer to kill a fly – and resulted in bad sound, poor video quality, and overall a completely disappointing experience. What were they thinking?

There are already plenty of intelligent uses of Augmented Reality technologies and some very smart applications that are finally getting traction and which even make good business sense because they supplement and add to the user experience instead of wasting our time. This clearly isn’t one of them.

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