Thursday, September 30, 2010

Vending Machine Craziness

I have blogged before about vending machines in Japan. They are located almost every 5 feet and you can buy just about anything in a vending machine, from drinks to french fries to batteries and to even underwear (I have yet to see that one, as it is in Tokyo).  Well now East Japan Railway has introduced a "smart" vending machine, which has the ability to recommend beverages based on your age and gender.

This machine, located in the Shinagawa train station, has a built in camera that can focus on a customer's face and tell what age and gender they are. It then groups people into decade categories, up to age 90, and recommends beverage ideas based upon their age grouping. It has a 75 percent accuracy rate.

The machine has a 47-inch touch screen display showing the drink options and will flash advertisements when not being used. Over 500 of these "smart" machines will be installed in the area within the next two years. 

I get frustrated at times with some of the "outdated" and complex processes Japan seems to have in place. But then other times I just shake my head in amazement. You can order McDonald's through a barcode on your cell phone. Train passes will work in convenient stores and vending machine for payment. Cell phones with TVs on them. A 5-ft tall "human robot" to be used in offices and businesses. And now a vending machine that can detect your age and gender.  Really, what will they think of next?

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