1 November 2020
This Halloween, chocolate brand Reese’s released a robot candy dispenser into US neighborhoods. The nine-foot-tall (2.7-meter), remote-controlled robot provides a socially-distant trick-or-treat experience for kids; operators can control the robot from up to 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) away, so they don’t have to get too close to the children who interact with it. Reese’s robot looks like a door and emits lights, smoke and Halloween music. The ‘door’ uses voice detection and will release a king-size peanut butter cup candy bar from its mail slot when kids say “trick or treat.” Reese’s will bring the robot to the neighborhoods of consumers who convince the company they are true Halloween fans, using #ReesesDoor on Instagram.
Robots are no longer relegated to factories, assembling iPhones or helping workers in the automotive industry lift heavy objects. They’ve broken free and are interacting with the public! Of course, this isn’t a brand-new phenomenon; fun robots like Pepper have been making appearances and showing off at press conferences for a few years now. But up until recently, consumer-facing robots and the ways they were used felt, dare we say...gimmicky.
Now, however, robots and other automated innovations are delivering experiences that are increasingly useful, as they’ve proven to be effective tools for social distancing, maintaining hygiene standards and reducing human contact. Yet at the same time, since most consumers don’t engage with robots every day, they’re still a novelty with the potential to surprise and delight. They put the FUN in function! This is especially true for Reese’s robot, which makes trick-or-treating a safer yet more unique experience. It also applies to Singapore-based cafe Crown Coffee, where customers can avoid human baristas’ germs while witnessing “Ella” make 200 cups of coffee an hour. And check out how Spot the robot dog is nudging (and likely startling) Singaporeans at parks to stand two meters apart while performing cheerleading routines at Japanese baseball games.
If your brand is exploring how to use robotics and automation to address COVID-era concerns,
could you infuse that tech with some entertainment? Drama? Fun? The “fun” here might seem frivolous, but consumers are perhaps more likely to engage in safety/social distance-facilitating experiences when they’re delightful. In the name of human health, what kinds of automation theater could you deploy?
The TrendWatching content team