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Robots on the Rise

Imagine a time when your vending machine experience doesn’t involve cash or money at all. Then imagine a time when all you need to do to get your drinks, sweets and other items is to simply look into a small camera on the vending machine and out pops your chosen item. When imagine no longer because we’re all living in an era of extraordinary and fast technological change. This is the era of intelligent machines and facial recognition that has extended from top security installations and into the everyday world of mobile phones and even vending machines.

Vending machines have over the last twenty odd years have seen an amazing transformation from clunky yet serviceable machines to some of the most advanced technology out there. Some of the latest machines have all the latest trends including robotics, machine learning, cashless payments and self service facilities. Yet it is the prospect of artificial intelligence that promises the next great step forward in the future progression of vending machines.

Okay, first things first, we are not talking about the machines in the Terminator series of movies here. There is no prospect of these machines taking over the world and unleashing hell on the humans that created them. That is purely in the mind of a Hollywood scriptwriter who wants to make an entertaining and distracting movie. Artificial Intelligence of AI is already all around us, just think about the predictive text facility in your mobile phone or similar functions in your washing machine, oven or a wide variety of everyday household appliances. In vending machine terms the kind of AI we’re talking about is one that will give you the correct change and one that will talk to and interact with other applications such as those on your mobile phone. Furthermore this level of AI will also be able to reasonably accurately predict your preferred choices of drink, sweets and other goods within a vending machine, based on previous choices as well as complicated algorithms.

So where might this new technology take us in the future? Well Coca Cola’s new smart digital vending machine will be launched shortly in New Zealand and the United States. This particular machine will allow customers to connect to the cloud so that purchases can be made remotely for later pickup as well as featuring a chatbot tool. Then there is the Viatouch Intelishelf Cognitive Kinetic Interactions or VIKKI for short. This machine goes a great deal further by introducing such features as being able to log in via your social media accounts, an iris scan of your eye or even your unique fingerprints.

The big players in the industry are eyeing vending machines as one of the next ways to build their businesses. Intel is offering high definition screens for vending machines to enhance the ‘vending machine experience’ with such functions as gesture interaction, cashless payments, touch screen controls and even scent recognition!

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