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Next-Generation Vending Machine

December 13, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

When I went back to Japan this summer, I realized that vending machines an capable of accepting an IC card were placed at almost every train station. However, technological innovation was far beyond my expectation. To my surprise, one company has introduced a new vending machine. It is a beverage vending machine which can market its drinks by itself and sells the best product at the time based on the customer.

This vending machine has a camera that identifies the person who is in front of it. It can identify his/her age and sex. In consideration of age, sex and the weather, it shows some suitable drinks on its display, as if there were a human in the vending machine. Whenever I stand in front of the vending machine in Walker Building at Emerson College, I almost laugh at myself because I always have to worry if I have enough small coins or if the products would fall correctly. I have never imagined these worries when I was in Japan.

The company can control its display because it uses Wi-Fi and digital signage. If there is no person in front of the vending machine, it can show the best advertisement for that moment. If it is a very hot day in summer, it will show some cool bottle of juice and water. Also, if the customer uses an IC card which is instrumented on a cell phone, it sends information about the brand’s mobile web site to the cell phone.

Due to legal protection of personal data, the vending machines cannot store the images of customers, but they can collect and store the information about the customer’s age, sex and taste. This data will be used as marketing research. Although still 43 percent of the 2009 vending machine sales used an IC card, The sales can be expected to increase in the future. Why? It’s ridiculously convenient. Why wouldn’t you use it?

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