Car shopping is always great in your head but generally far less pleasurable in real life.
There's the hard sell to contend with, the peril of the options list, paying for the darn thing. Even configuring a car on the internet can be a cripplingly complex decision making process.
But what if you didn't even have to think about it? What if the perfect car could be chosen for you?
Wonder no longer, for the Bentley Inspirator app has arrived!
Putting aside the preposterous name, this is a pretty clever bit of tech that will configure the perfect car for you based on your emotional reaction to a short film.
It may sound like witchcraft but the app harnesses your iPhone's front camera to monitor your facial expressions and interprets them to select the perfect Bentley for you.
We say "perfect Bentley", but that's only really the case if you're idea of perfect uses the Bentayga SUV as its starting point. Given its £160,000 price, size and, let's say challenging looks, we're going to say that's far from everyone, but if you like the sound of “the fastest, most powerful, most luxurious and most exclusive SUV in the world” and you don't trust your PA to spec it out for you, why not let your feelings choose your options?
The short films mainly feature a bearded man in a black roll neck jumper talking about inspiration and design, while the word 'extraordinary' pops up a lot, often accompanied by images of beaches, stunning architecture and other phantasmagorias designed to evoke emotion.
The phone's camera and the app's emotion recognition software then measures 200 expression touch points on the your face at four frames per second, as you react to the film's content. At the end of every clip, the user's reactions are analysed and they dictate the course of the film's narrative. It's a bit like those interactive story books you read as a kid but slightly more high-tech and a little bit less about avoiding pits full of spikes.
At the end of the process, the app suggests the perfect Bentley Bentayga based on your particular personality traits. First time around, it suggested I plump for an all-black model. Black exterior paint, black wheels, a piano black interior and black leather upholstery. Apparently, this was based on my tendency towards risk aversion. Or perhaps the app saw into the very core of my being and discovered that I have no soul.
The second time around, I tried grinning a gurning like a lunatic to each short clip and it decided I purchase a Crisp Frost Bentayga with Beluga interior hides, Dark Fiddleback veneer and Glacier White exterior paint. And yes, the most surprising aspect definitely is the names Bentley gives to everything.
It could all be a load of rubbish but I did come away from the experience weirdly pining after a Bentley Bentayga... and a jet-black roll neck jumper.