What do a collection of wooden spoons, a newly-installed rain gutter, and a dialysis machine have in common? They’d all look fantastic on your next smartphone case according to my-handy-design — a bot on Amazon that’s currently going hog wild with algorithmically-generated product designs.
First spotted by data artist Russell Jurney (and shared more widely by technologist Andy Baio), the bot seems to be pulling in stock photos from some unknown source and then automatically generating a product page and price.
The source of the photos isn’t clear, but the images do fall into some recurring categories, including medical procedures (“Varicose veins treatment cell phone cover case Samsung S5”), beauty treatments (“Eyebrows tinting treatment with natural henna dye cell phone cover case Samsung S5”), drugs (“Medical Cannabis Marijuana oil ready for consumption cell phone cover case iPhone5”), and DIY (“Plumber hands fixing water tap with spanner, faucet and tool cell phone cover case iPhone5”).
So, really covering the four main areas of human interest then. Here are a few more of our favorites:
What exactly is going on here is a bit of a mystery. (Think you know? Shoot us an email or speculate in the comments.) One theory is that my-handy-design is a twisted marketplace bot that was designed to make products in response to popular search terms. But, for some reason, instead of making smartphone cases with Taylor Swift’s face on it or whatever, it dived into the weird-already world of stock photos. Or, it could be run by humans who are just masquerading as bots, aka a Horse_ebooks situation.
They may look fake, but these phone cases can actually be bought. Although, according to this review they’re terrible quality — poorly printed and made out of cheap plastic. This, plus the fact that each listing says the product is out of stock or that only one item is available, suggests that whoever’s behind the bot is printing each case to order. Buy one before the seller realizes they’re now internet art, and jacks up the prices even more.