Take Two

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by Alex Cohen & A Martínez

App Chat: 3D printing Oreos and spreading secrets at SXSW

by Jacob Margolis | Take Two

Now it's time now for App Chat, South by Southwest edition.

The festival kicks into music mode Wednesday, but here's an overview of my favorite apps that I saw on the interactive floor earlier this week. 

If you REALLY love Oreos

Watch the Oreo 3D printer in action

Oreo, along with a couple of design companies, built a custom 3D printer that can customize frosting designs onto already baked cookies. 

The line was up to three hours long Tuesday morning. But for those who survived the wait, a touch screen with a built-in app allowed for the selection of frosting and cookies. The various customizations were based on trending tweets. (So for instance, let's say Fourth of July is trending. That means your cookie would most likely be adorned in stripes of red, white and blue.)

Then, one of the 16 3D printer nozzles extrudes cream in a pattern — bullseye, pie shapes, stripes, swirls — on your cookie. Each time, the machine hits an exact amount of cream to cookie ratio, which is 6.8 grams of icing per Oreo. Each layer comes out to about two millimeters of frosting.

Did we mention? This whole thing was constructed in just six weeks.

There were two flavors of cookies: chocolate and vanilla. For the cream on the cookies, several types were being served. They also had ginger bread, birthday cake, lemon, peppermint, banana and sherbet-flavored creams. 

The only one I tried was sherbet; it was awful and no one should have to eat that ever. We're hoping at least one of the others was delectable. Maybe a banana and chocolate combo? 

Regardless of the taste, Mondelez International, the company that owns Oreo, said that they eventually bring this sort of Oreo customization technology to the public. But for right now, they're just using it to test out flavors. 

If you've been drinking, make sure you're safe to drive

You can check out Breathometer. It's a little piece of hardware that you plug into the headphone jack on your phone, you blow into it and the app tells you your blood alcohol level, how long it's going to take for you to get sober and whether you're over the legal limit.

It costs about $50 and it's supposed to be pretty accurate, but you do have to wait 20 minutes after you drink for it to accurately reflect what you've consumed. So in that time, the device might not accurately reflect a persons blood alcohol content.

If you have a "Secret" to share

For the past couple of years, social apps have dominated SXSW. Back in 2009, Foursquare was the big breakout app. Twitter also blew up there, but this year it was all about Secret.

In previous years it was about sharing and building your online persona, but this year it was about hiding your identity. Not surprising, it's mostly been about sex and drugs. You can check out their Twitter feed here.

There are things like this: "I survived SXSW with monogamy intact. Yay me." I guess we all need our little victories.

Here's how it works: You post anonymously in the app and it shares the message with your friends — if they're on the app as well. But it doesn't say who's sharing the secret. If they comment or like any of your secrets, it spreads to their friends and then it spreads some more.

But I don't see how it would ever become as big as something like Twitter. It seems like it's more of a novelty.

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