Saturday, October 9, 2010

Drink recommendation

Within the last ten days I've been in Asia, Europe and North America. I've taken jetlag to a new level. Usually there is a reference point, you can say, "It's past midnight in the Netherlands at the moment, my internal clock thinks it's past my bedtime and that's why I am so tired." Now I have no clue why time my internal clock reads.

At the grocery store, I just picked out a four pack of energy drink in order to try to jump start myself and get re-aligned with the cycle of the sun at my current location. I stood for ten minutes in front of the selections, looking at the cans and then reading the labels. I wanted something not too expensive, sugar free and also with guarana. A Brazilian colleague had recommended guarana as one of the best "pick up" ingredients you can get in an energy drink.

What I could use is a good drink recommendation system. The Asian part of this odyssey took place in Tokyo, and the following video was what YouTube there listed as a popular video. It had received 44466 views in the one day since it had been uploaded.

1 dag geleden 44466 keer bekeken

It is a news report on a drink vending machine (a Tokyo fixture) that recommends drinks by taking your picture and doing a little bit of multimedia content analysis that gives it clues as to your age and gender.

In my current situation, age and gender wouldn't have been enough. Rather the system would need information about my internal state -- the camera would have to have noticed the unfocused glaze of my tired eyes. In this situation, internal-state information could be inferred if the system had access to information about my geo-coordinates within the last ten days. Access to a recent history of my sleeping-waking pattern would provide an even better source of evidence.

However, another key bit of information, that would be critical to get to the correct drink would be that at the moment I do not want to be tired. I can't be tired. I don't want something that will relax me -- no chamomile, not yet. I need to work.

The bottom line is clear: barring a system that has access to all that information and the ability to use it in the right way, the Brazilian colleague remains the best source of drink recommendations.

And it looks like the drink is working already, since I have already reached a level of alertness to attempt a blog post.