We all know that robots are getting smarter, but their food-dispensing cousins are getting pretty bright in their own right. No longer the mundane machines that collect money and dispense soda and candy bars, vending machines are being fitted with finger scanners and communicating with each other so you can buy your cross-country friend a Pepsi. Some vending machines even dispense select delicacies such as live crabs and live lobsters!
The latest in the vending machine transformation is the concept machine by Sanden, a vending machine manufacturer, and Okaya Electronics. You can scroll through choices and make a selection using touchscreen. A massive 65-inch transparent HD display uses Intel software to create animations that make our purchasing experience a pleasing one, and entice other would-be purchasers to dig for some change and give it a try.
The vending machine also uses a face recognition strategy already being used in some parts of Japan. When someone approaches the machine, a camera measures the person’s physical features and makes a guess as to the person’s sex and age, then displays advertisements targeted to those demographics.
That’s all fine and good, say the robots, but in the end, it’s still just a fancy way to sell junk. Not so fast, robots. When it doesn’t have customers, the machine displays the time. And in times of emergency it goes into “public safety mode” and displays information such as alert updates and evacuation routes. Okay, not the most one might do with a large, public, touchscreen interface…but it is just a vending machine after all.