Even though we're practically sitting on Star Trek technology thanks to tablets, e-readers, and smartphones, other parts of everyday life still need to catch up. Oddly enough, vending machines may not be too far behind the curve. Give it another few years, and they'll be guessing what you want to drink before you can press a button.
Glimpsing the future of soda machines, Technabob relays some interesting footage of this ambitious joint project between the Sanden Corporation, Intel, and Okaya Electronics. It currently doesn't have a name, but this concept design vending machine uses a massive see-through touchscreen and some nifty camera work to actually interact with random passerby. Most impressively, a camera mounted on the top of the machine can use facial recognition software to determine your age and gender, recommending a drink in the process.
It's all powered by an Audience Impression Metric (or AIM), which is in turn fueled by an Intel Sandy Bridge Core processor. If you happen to be a repeat customer, Sanden also claims that the software will help vending machines remember your face, and suggest items based on what you previously bought. Is that a bit frightening?
Of course, vending machines sell a lot more than just drinks, and you might find the touchscreen displaying advertising for an iPhone, tablet, or any number of small electronic devices:
"In this demo, we're suggesting that vending machines could be used to purchase luxury items, such as cosmetics and wine. The machine also has a public safety mode in times of emergency, which shows information such as evacuation routes."
"I think this machine could be used in lots of ways, depending on customers' imagination. It has a great many possibilities, so we'd like to get ideas from everyone, rather than just using it as a regular vending machine."
How far basic technology has come over the years. Vending machines that guess what you want just by scanning your face? That's more 2099 than 2011.
McKinley Noble is a former GamePro staff editor, current technology nerd and eternal mixed martial arts enthusiast. He also likes Japanese sports dramas and soap operas. Follow him on Twitter or just Google his name.
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