When ooVoo approached Real Art to devise a way to showcase ooVoo’s Intelligent Video capabilities at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, we jumped at the chance to experiment with ooVoo technology in a new way. We wondered, “What can we do to tell the ooVoo Intelligent Video story while demonstrating real-time video analysis and emotional response tracking?” We wanted to give people the Intelligent Video experience by putting them in a situation where they were required to interact with the product. Most importantly, we wanted them to be able to share this experience with others. The depth of the ooVoo Intelligent Video capability is such that many mixes of emotions, states, and moods can be analyzed, but we wanted to make the experience as simple and enjoyable as possible. Emote a smile for a sweet drink, show us a pucker face for something sour.
Where Oh Where Does One Start?
The ooVoo Jooce Shoppe concept was born and Real Art’s team in the Development Lab set out to create an interactive juice dispenser powered by ooVoo technology that met the following objectives:
- The system should be commanded to dispense juice when the user smiled/puckered
- The interaction should last approximately 20 seconds
- The system should provide the user with the necessary information to review and share their own interaction on the web
Our approach was to modify an off-the-shelf juice machine to permit on-demand dispensing. To do this, we developed a juice machine control system that integrated with a custom ooVoo Jooce Shoppe app, also developed by Real Art, to measure the emotional response of the user in the interaction and dispensed juice accordingly. Upon successful completion of the interaction, the system provided the user with a printed receipt (consistent with the juice bar experience) with their personal access code to view and share their video.
Facing Our First Challenges
The first challenge we came to was ensuring that when the juice was dispensed no messes were made by sticky juice overflow. This led to the question: “how will we know how much juice has dispensed at all?” Because, while potentially not as messy, an under-filled cup doesn’t make for a satisfactory user experience either. We started by exploring the use of solenoid valves to open and close the flow of juice coupled with liquid-level and cup-fill sensors. We quickly discovered the ghost of Bernoulli was haunting us with the fundamental principles of fluid dynamics and preventing a continuous flow of juice from the dispenser. With each cup of juice, more time was required to dispense the next. It was clear the juice would have to be physically pumped from the tank to provide a consistent fill time and prevent someone from experiencing smile or pucker cramps from trying to fill their cup.
Pumping presented a new set of challenges in the form of priming, pressures, flow rates, and contamination. Food safety, sanitary use, and contamination prevention was of primary concern throughout the design of the juice dispenser. This is when we looked to the beer brewing community for guidance. Brewers have similar challenges in that they want to prevent their precious liquids from being ruined when moved from one container to the next. This is why brewers commonly use peristaltic pumps, which move liquids by pinching and squeezing the tubing, allowing a metered amount of liquid to be advanced through the tube without being exposed. Side Note: Peristaltic pumps derive their name from the automatic biologic response peristalsis, which is a state of periodic muscle contractions that move consumed food through the digestive tract. Sounds like a good name for a food and beverage dispensing pump for sure!
Other benefits of this pumping scheme are that the system is self-priming and it can run dry which were also beneficial for our application where maintenance and operation of the system needed to remain fairly low. We coupled the peristaltic pumps to the juice dispenser using food-safe flexible transfer tubing and quick disconnect compression fittings to ensure ease of use and cleaning for the on-site team.
But American Appliances Don’t Work in Europe, and that Hertz!
The next technical hurdle to jump was to deal with the power management of the system. The fact that we were to showcase this system at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France meant the components we selected for the juice dispenser needed to be compatible with 230VAC 50Hz power (standard in Europe). This meant the components we chose not only had to accommodate this specification, but also had to physically plug into the Euro-style outlet, which after consulting plenty of data sheets, calling distributors, and using universal power adapters, we were able to achieve. Furthermore, we had to map out the overall power consumption of each outlet we used because we didn’t want to overdraw the power circuit and blow any breakers in the Palais. We mapped the power consumption of all the devices to be plugged in and communicated with the Palais event staff to ensure the correct number of outlets and sufficient amperage was available.
To guarantee that the tablet remained charged throughout the event, we chose to employ a Bluetooth connection between the tablet and the juice machine control system, allowing the USB port on the tablet to remain dedicated to charging the device as well as cut down on the overall wiring burden.
Getting the Joocy Details in Order
Finally, with the overall system operational, we modified the juice dispenser by installing tablet mounts, sealing off the original dispense mechanism, and installing custom plumbing. Then we added custom 3D-printed parts, and painted the housing of the refrigeration unit. We also designed and fabricated housing for the thermal printer to match the juice dispenser’s design elements. This process was then repeated nine times, plus one extra for insurance, for each dispenser to be installed on-site.
The final system diagram is shown below. The Android tablet ran a custom app that managed the smile/pucker interaction and provided the commands via Bluetooth to the micro controller (we used Arduino Mini connected to a BlueSmirf modem). Based on these commands the microcontroller turned the pump on or off at a pre-determined rate by sending commands to the motor control circuit that interfaces with the pump. Additionally, the microcontroller received the command to activate the thermal printer when the interaction was complete and the receipt was requested.
Good ‘Till the Last Drop
This project was a hoot from the first cup of water we dispensed in the lab with a smile (or was it a frown?) to the installation of the ooVoo Jooce Shoppe at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and watching people from around the world interact with the machines we built. With every element of the experience tied to the client’s brand story, it was amazing to see the various talents at Real Art work in a collaborative way. In the end, the looks of frustration and maniacal smiling to squeeze out another drop of that sweet, sweet Jooce made the entire experience worthwhile.