Reason, a media outlet best known for its libertarian commentary, recently posted a fun article on some of the latest items being sold in vending machines. Newer models parlay everything from cupcakes to men?s underwear, to bicycle helmets, even gold bars.
But the real future of the industry is likely robotic. Supermarket giant Kroger, for example, recently opened a 24/7 automated kiosk that sells grocery items on the Ohio Northern University campus, the Business Courier reports, while KHOU.com notes that a ?free-standing, robotic convenience store called “Shop 24,” opened at an apartment complex in Houston. Among the items for sale, according to the article: ?cleaning supplies, pinto beans, salsa and macaroni and cheese.?
All this might not seem like much of a stretch for a nation that?s quickly grown accustomed to DVD-vending kiosks and airport vending machines that dispense small electronic devices. But robotics-related technology could soon add far more futuristic sophistication to an age-old industry.
In December, for example, the BBC reported that Intel and Kraft had collaborated on an intelligent vending machine, which ?uses an optical sensor..to deduce the shape of the human purchaser’s face. The information is ?used to determine the sex of the shopper and place them in one of four age brackets. This data is then used to determine what, if any, product the shopper should be served.?
Knowing who your customers are is one thing, but actively pursuing them is quite another, which is what this Japanese Coco-Cola vending machine does, and it?s no doubt just the beginning of what a marriage between robotics and vending has in store for us. Shopping may never be the same.Read More