A new generation of vending machines being developed in Japan will have the intelligence to determine if the customer is male or female, young or old and present text, images or animation tailored to the person to sell its wares. The machine is being developed by Sanden, the world leader in vending machines that makes over 2 million machines a year. Sanden is partnering Okaya Electronics and Intel to develop this product.
The vending machine front face is a 65-inch see-through HD display screen. When there is no customer in front of the vending machine, the screen shows a clock face and plays product advertisements. As soon as the customer stands in front of the vending machine, a video camera mounted on top scans the customer’s face and compares the data with its database to determine the approximate age and sex of the customer. This is achieved by the use of Intel’s new SandyBridge Core processor that ports the Audience Impression Metric software. The display on the screen is then tailored to the age and sex of the customer. For example, a beverage vending machine may offer older customers a choice of fruit or health drinks ahead of cola drinks. Cigarette vending machines may be programmed to deny access to very young customers. If the vending machine is dispensing cosmetics, it would know that a male customer is unlikely to buy lipstick and a female customer is unlikely to be interested in shaving gel. The HD display will show text messages and touch boxes to help the customer navigate through options until the sale is completed.
In locations such as in commercial offices, the machine can also be programmed to remember repeat customers and offer them their regular products instead of the full menu of choices. The display screen can also show maps, emergency escape procedures and exits and such public service information, serving an additional useful purpose.
Vending machines are generally used to sell low cost merchandise such as food or beverage or for simpler transactions such as movie rentals. With intelligent vending machines, that could change with the customer able to see product demos, accessories and usage related information on the vending machine screen. Such professionally made demos would even work better than a sales person who may not be adequately trained or lack the motivation.
Sanden believes that these intelligent vending machines will spawn a host of new applications and is seeking opinions and suggestions from the people who see the demo.