The Not Hotdog app, which started as a bit on HBO’s Silicon Valley before releasing as an actual app on the App Store, is now available on Android too. The app’s purpose is simple: it helps you identify whether the food in front of you is a hotdog or not. And that’s all there is to it.
If you haven’t been keeping up with the show, here’s how this happened. Midway through the fourth season – which finished airing this week – pompous Erlich (T.J. Miller) and oblivious Jian-Yang (Jimmy O. Yang) secured $200,000 in funding from a venture capital firm for SeeFood, an app that the former pitched as a “Shazam for food”.
After cooking up a working demo over a few days, with the help of Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) and Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani), they realised that their app was in fact capable of only identifying a hotdog and nothing else. So in a smart pivot, the app came to be a known as ‘Not Hotdog’.
Normally, the joke would’ve stopped there. But HBO went ahead and hired a developer to turn the ridiculous idea into an actual, functioning app, which would be the first for Silicon Valley since its beginning four years ago.
The developer in question is Tim Anglade, who published a lengthy post on Monday regarding the app’s development process on his Medium blog. In it, Anglade mentioned that they used Tensorflow, and a Nvidia GPU to train the algorithm, which took about 80 hours.
Of course, the app is far from perfect. Anglade himself attached a tweet that shows the Not Hotdog app failing if you just put some ketchup on an arm, a banana, or an apple. But that’s missing the point, which is that… okay maybe there’s no point to it. Now go identify some hotdogs, or not.