Ah, Japan. The land of vending machines for, quite literally, everything. Now Japanese vending machines dispense one more item: free Wi-Fi!
Asahi Soft Drinks has introduceda new vending machine that dispenses soft drinks as well as a wireless signal. And the good news, of course, is that this wireless signal is totally free.
The signal will be good for a 50-meter radius around the machine, and users will be able to log on using smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Users can be continuously connected to the wireless signal for 30 minutes at a time, but when they’re kicked off after a half-hour they can just log on again.
Upon initial logon, the wireless vending machine network displays a splash page with ads and info from local surrounding businesses (as well as Asahi).
Asahi believes that this new vending machine will strengthen and expand the vending machine business by drawing customers (within 50 meters). I’m not totally sure this will work, though, since many vending machines are located in areas that are not so hospitable to lazy web browsers, such as busy intersections.
Asahi plans to introduce 1000 of these machines around Japan in the next year, and expand to 10,000 machines in the next five years. Asahi also operates about 250,000 non-Wi-Fi-enabled vending machines in Japan.