Molson and Google have created a beer fridge that understands 40 different languages

Global Beer Fridge

Molson, purveyor of what some would say is mediocre beer, would like to remind Canadians that it’s one the country’s most patriotic brands. To that end, the company has built a fridge that will freely distribute its beer during the Pan Am Games in Toronto. What’s noteworthy about the device is that it incorporates many of the technologies that are becoming an integral part of our smartphones.

Using a combination of speech recognition and translation APIs, the fridge is able to parse through 40 different languages. Once it recognizes the phrase “I am Canadian” in six different languages, it opens, revealing a cache of beer.

The multilingual fridge was a joint project between Molson, Google and ThinkingBox, a multi-national digital production studio that has offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Los Angeles and Dubai. The latter produced a video that showcases the work that went in to creating the fridge. Adam Green, one of the Google employees interviewed in the video, goes to great length to tell the viewer what a complex technical challenge it was to create an appliance that understands so many different languages.

“When I first heard the idea I thought, that’s unbelievably cool. I have no idea how we’re going to make this happen, but I have some of the pieces that could make it work,” he says. “Taking six different people’s voices, determining what the language is, making sure that they’re saying the right thing and using the signal to then open the fridge, that’s months of work with dozens of people working on a problem that literally no one know how to solve originally, or knew the exact answer of how we’d get there.”

Indeed, all that work was in service of a marketing ploy. Still, it’s a clever and well-excuted one, and I have to admit that it was difficult not to feel a swell of patriotic pride when I heard someone in the commercial utter “I am Canadian” in my native tongue.

Of course, this is not the first time Molson has pulled a stunt of this type. During the Sochi Olympics in 2014, the company planted a beer fridge in the Black Sea costal city that would open its doors when a person successfully scanned his or her Canadian passport.

As mentioned, this latest iteration of the company’s beer fridge will be in Toronto during the Pan Am Games, which start on July 10th and go through to the 26th.