Rosé/Not Rosé: The Inside Scoop

June 28, 2021, 08:06
By Mason Halstead

How do you evoke the spirit of Cannes Lions in a way that showcases the abilities of deep learning while still being fun and engaging? Also, how do you bring a sense of optimism and lightheartedness while fostering connections between people coming out of an immensely challenging year?

We found the answer in an unlikely place: HBO’s Silicon Valley. For those who have never seen the show, one running gag involves the creation of an app called “Not Hotdog”, whose sole function is to – you guessed it – separate the hot dogs from the not hot dogs. Our team thought it would be fun to apply that same concept to showcase the go-to drink of Cannes, albeit in a slightly more sophisticated way – and so, Rosé/Not Rosé! was born. 

Our goal was to provide a moment of levity in a serious time. We wanted to evoke the fizzy atmosphere of Cannes while giving people around the world the opportunity to relive their favorite memories of the event. 

The concept is simple: show the app a picture of a drink, and it will tell you whether it’s rosé, or not rosé. Sounds simple, right? Well, there’s a bit more to it than that. 

In order to make the app work, the neural network underpinning it had to be trained on thousands of images. As it turns out, rosé can be particularly difficult to identify, as the color can change drastically depending on what type of glass it’s in, the lighting – not to mention the variety of drinks that look similar, like grapefruit juice or even an aperol spritz. In the first version of the app released last year, it was possible to get false positives – as one intrepid reporter found, the AI could be tricked into thinking that a glass of red wine vinegar was actually rosé. For the latest version of the app, we’ve essentially made the algorithm learn from its mistakes by feeding images back into it to improve accuracy. 

From the very beginning, we knew we wanted to include easter eggs for users to find. So, if you use the app while lounging on a beach, working at the office or on your computer, you’ll be treated to some playful messaging. 

I’d never built an app like this myself before, so the whole experience came with a new set of challenges. Having to develop something that can run on multiple operating systems and be used on a smartphone is not something I encounter very often in my day-to-day, but that’s what made the Rosé/Not Rosé! a particularly fun project to work on. 

You can find the new and improved version of Rosé/Not Rosé on the iOS and Android app stores. So sit back, pour yourself a glass of (not) rosé, and let the fun begin! 

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