Amsterdam based advertising agency Natwerk asked us to build a “machine that people could control over the internet to give away free ice cream”. It would have to stream live video over 3G, it would have a big flat TV screen, two cameras, a freezer and it had to be finished within 6 weeks. This project promised to be quite a challenge but we said we could do it!

The machine was built around a welded steel frame with wooden panels. Inside the machine we installed 2 laptops (for video encoding, 3G uplink & full screen playback), a modified freezer with a custom made carousel that could hold 21 cups of ice cream, a sound system and a bunch of electronics that were needed to control the dispensing mechanism, the blinking arrows and the camera trigger.

This project was part of the Givolution campaign. Everyone who would buy a cup of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the supermarket could give away one cup for free, to a total stranger! The customer could log on to a special website by entering the cup’s bar code. The customer would see a live streaming video of people coming down an escalator and he/she could click on somebody in the video.

The machine would respond instantaneously by playing a showbiz tune, blinking lights and displaying the persons’ picture on the large screen. As soon as the person stepped off the escalator a cup of ice cream dropped out of the machine. When the person took the cup out of the machine a picture was taken, which was sent back to the customer online, as a thank you for giving away free ice cream.