Vending machines – how their interfaces change over time

Vending machines are here to stay (at least the food and drinks ones). People use them, even if their interfaces are miserable. Similar to copiers, microwave ovens, etc. We got rid of at least group of badly designed interfaces – VCR’s :).

There are two groups of vending machine (keep in mind food and drinks) interfaces:

  • 1. interface that maps the product with the button

    One example is Guus Baggermans design


    Another example is IDEO’s design

  • 2. interface that expects random combination of buttons to spit a desired product

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    IMG_5108.JPG IMG_5114.JPG

The REAL question is why the second group of interfaces STILL EXIST 🙁 (bare in mind that vending machines from the first groups were available in 1952!!!)?

Innovation does not stop here though (together with stupidity). Let’s see some examples

  • Vending machines recognize age & sex and recommend beverages

    "The vending machines recommend beverages after physical attributes of
    customers are picked up by sensors which allow the machines determine
    age, sex and other attributes, before offering a number of suggestions. 

    A male consumer, according to Nikkei (subscription),
    may be shown images of canned coffee due to customer research, which
    will be displayed on the 47 inch touchscreen monitor before reverting to
    a normal vending machine display.

    I might be missing something. Why would machine need to recognize sex and age. I don’t drink coffee and would have to wait to get to the normal display??!!? Is it still possible for me to buy a drink for my wife? Are we really that stupid to not be able to decide what we want to drink? What happens if I show up with my children there?

    And I bet the tripled sales have nothing to do with a HUGE interactive and funny touchscreen display 🙂

  • Biometric vending machine

    "Next Generation Vending and Food Service is experimenting with
    biometric vending machines that would allow a user to tie a credit card
    to their thumbprint."

    Did they ever try to log in on the laptop with a finger? Is fingerprint really the best way