Does the Coca-Cola bottle - which turned 100 last week - look its age?

Yes, according to Microsoft’s buzzed-about website, which has captured the world’s attention by guessing the age of people in photos using facial recognition technology and real-time data analytics. More than 575 million images have been uploaded to the site in just six months.

Now, in honor of the Coke bottle becoming a centenarian, Microsoft’s data scientists in the U.S. are stretching the robot’s capabilities even further by making the iconic package the first object recognised by the tool.

Here’s how it works: Fans can try to unlock a special Coca-Cola experience page by uploading a photo of a Coca-Cola bottle (with the Coke logo visible) to - either as a “selfie” or a standalone pack shot. If the bottle is detected, the "age" of the bottle will appear as 100 years old, and the page will turn red. Users will be prompted to share their results on social media and receive a link to the global Coca-Cola Journey site.

The #CokeBottleBirthday experience launched last week on the website in the U.S.

It all started with a challenge from a group of Coca-Cola marketers in Kazakhstan, who were fascinated by the #HowOldRobot when it was unveiled at a developer conference in May. The team approached Microsoft, together with mutual partners at McCann, to explore a possible collaboration as a creative way to mark this year's big milestone.

“Microsoft captivated our collective imagination with this technology, and it was an easy leap to connect it to the Coca-Cola bottle anniversary we’ve been celebrating this year,” said Simon Cowart, global social media strategist at The Coca-Cola Company. “We saw a unique opportunity to engage our fans in a great experiential brand moment.”

'We saw a unique opportunity to engage our fans in a great experiential brand moment,' said Simon Cowart, global social media strategist, Coca-Cola.

Jelena Veselinovic, global director of connections strategy at Coca-Cola, said the project presented an opportunity to pay homage to Coke’s innovative spirit in a fun, 21st Century way.

“What was important to us was to not only tap into existing consumer interest and associate ourselves with a popular application,” she added. “Instead, we wanted to create a truly authentic Coca-Cola experience and create an opportunity for people to discover or rediscover the Coke bottle in a surprising way.”

Microsoft’s engineers accepted the challenge, and partnered with reps from Coke to begin developing the idea as a stretch assignment. “It was known to all that this may never come to fruition, and was a long shot,” Cowart said. “But we went for it.”

After development and testing, Microsoft unlocked a way to detect images of both the Coca-Cola logo and bottle with the capabilities of Cortana Analytics Suite. Read more about how the Microsoft team created the #CokeBottleBirthday site.

“Now we are the only commercial product, or any inanimate object, to be detected using image detection capabilities within,” said Veselinovic.

She added, “This project is a testament to the iconic status of Coca-Cola bottle. Times, technologies and even consumers change, but the Coca-Cola bottle continues to inspire the world over. It touches everybody, and everyone wants to be part of it.” 

This article was originally published on the global Coca-Cola Journey website.