Coca-Cola has just released a new chill-activated can design which visually tells people whether their Coke is cold or not. The color-changing ice cubes serve as the visual cue that your Coke can is, in fact, cold. But this new Coke can feature is a bit useless, no?

“It should be obvious, but for the most part, no one needs to be visually told when something is cold or hot,” writes Fast Company‘s John Brownlee. He makes a valid point: Why do we need products to convey temperature when we can just touch our beer can to see if it’s cold, or taste our pizza to see if it was hot upon delivery?

Regardless, Coca-Cola has jumped on the chill-activation train. First released as a 7-Eleven promotion six months ago, the chill-activated can is now available to everyone. The color-changing ice cube effect is achieved with thermochromatic ink, a color-sensitive dye that has been used in cheap thermometers for years. The color-sensitive ink is increasingly being used by big brands, including Coors, Pizza Hut, and Mountain Dew for packaging purposes.

Brownlee calls these chill- and heat-activated products “faddish bad design.” He writes:

“The design problem that Coca-Cola, Coors Light, Mountain Dew, Pizza Hut have tasked themselves to solve is how to convey the temperature of their product to people without hands. That’s actually a noble pursuit in its own way—amputees need a nice frosty one now and again, just like everyone else—but something tells me, that’s not why these companies’ R&D departments spent their millions.

Brownlee adds that there are occasions when people actually need to be told if something is cold or hot, like when stove burners turn orange. But cans of Coke and Coors Light don’t exactly fall into this category.

[via Fast Company]