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How do you make Amsterdam a friendlier city? A city where people smile and make each other laugh? By using facial recognition of course!
Together with Martin Staaf I tackled this challenge and we came up with the Happy Checkout.
A campaign for I (Am)sterdam and Albert Heijn, a competition for the clerks and a fun experience for the costumers.

A Happy Challenge.

Cameras are mounted at every participating store’s checkout-lines facing the customers and facial recognition software detects the expression of the customer. The clerk is then awarded points according to a very simple system: a smile is 1 point, a laugh is 2 points.
At the end of every day the points are collected and the the clerk that brings in the most smiles will be announced through Social Media.
The challenge encourages friendliness, politeness, jokes and laughter and since happiness is contagious we create not only a happier person, or store, but a happier city.
The campaign will run for one week as a collaboration between Albert Heijn and I (Am)sterdam as a way to improve the brand image of them both. During the week a ”smile-counter” will be placed on top of the famous I Amsterdam-sign displaying, in real-time the total number of smiles brought to the citizens and tourists of Amsterdam.
When the week is up, the clerk who brought the most smiles to customers will win a trip for themselves and a friend to Florianopolis, Brazil (Voted friendliest city in the world). The store who brought in the most smiles and laughs (per register) will be awarded a dinner at the great Amsterdam restaurant and Michelin-star winner Ciel Bleu (famous for it’s service).

INSIGHT – Fake it ‘til you make it.

The situation at the check out can be something neither customers nor employee is happy about. The good thing is that you only need to fake happiness to actually become happier. In a Ted Talk Amy Cuddy PhD in Social Psychology explained that if you force your body to portray a feeling your brain will follow and actually start feeling it. So if you try to portray happiness you can actually fool your brain into becoming happy.

Happiness is also like a virus, it’s contagious. It spreads from person to person, just like yawning. Simply put – if you are happy, people around you will be happier.

”We have known for a long time that there is a direct relationship between one person’s happiness and another’s.”

— James H. Fowler, PhD, of the University of California-San Diego

How will this work?

For our concept I developed a facial recognition system that uses your webcam to detect smiling. This was to show that the tech behind it isn’t super expensive or hard to use and can actually be implemented on a website.

Try it and read more about it here!

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