Aetna – Machine 11

  • Client:- Aetna
  • Agency:- Ogilvy New York
  • Role:- Technical Lead / Builder

Making of Machine 11.
Aetna Machine 11 on UNIT9.com


Making of:

Another great build project in 2014, and the second advert I was in.

It is said that smoking a cigarette shortens your life by 11 minutes. The team at Ogilvy wanted to ask people to trade in that cigarette to get something back for those 11 minutes instead. We were asked to build a beautiful shining obelisk into which people could insert the cigarette they would have smoked, and in return they would be given a capsule which contained a scroll. The scroll detailed what they would be doing with the 11 minutes of their life that they just got back. Some people got 11 minutes to surrounded by puppies, some got 11 minutes learning magic. Some poor souls got 11 minutes learning to rap… which is everybody’s dream, I know.

The idea was to build a waterproof vending machine that could survive the New York winter weather. On the day of the shoot, that waterproofing was put to the test. The machine survived with the help of some additional silicon from a caulk gun, the team’s feet did not.

The machine was a 2 metre tall wooden structure inside, painted white and clad in some 3000 LEDs, with a semi-transparent white plastic shell around it. Inside all the mechanisms were 3D printed, and the idea was to run the lighting animations and cigarette detection from a Raspberry PI. Unfortunately the shoot was pushed forward, and we lost the time we needed to optimise the lighting animations for the PI, so instead on the day we ran it with a laptop inside the machine! That’s fine when it’s freezing cold, but on a normal day the laptop would overheat since the machine was almost completely sealed to keep the water off the precious LEDs. Soon after, though, we upgraded the hardware to run on the Raspberry PI, and our overheating problems were over.

Be sure to check out the UNIT9 project page, it has some great photos taken as we built the machine.