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Noodle Idol

Once again, we head over to Japan, to see what’s happening in the Vending world. This time though, it’s a little different to what we have come to expect.

The culture of celebrity is becoming a massive part of our lives, thanks to social media such as twitter and TV shows like the X factor people are now feeling closer to their favourite celebrities than ever with technology bringing them to an accessible level, but seeing them out and about in real, public life still excites most people. Scenes of pandemonium are seen when Justin Bieber or Rihanna walk down the street…

Now, a cafe in Japan has turned this around. Forget walking up to a noodle vending machine and being served your hot cup of noodles straight from the machine. Now you can pop along, buy your noodles and select your favourite ‘idol’ from a vending machine, walk over to the counter and have your Idol fill your cup with water and chat to you for 3 minutes about your day. The idol is actually there, behind the counter in the cafe waiting to serve you!All this, and a drink for just 800 JPY! Different Idols will appear in the cafe on different days to allow for variety and the chance for the customers to meet their favourite.

Personally, I find this slightly odd… I can’t imagine Cheryl Cole or Victoria Beckham working in a cafe, filling noodle pots with water and having a chat unless for charity. But, hey, if it works for the Japanese give it a few years and there might be a few ex-Big Brother stars willing to serve noodles over here in the UK as well!

How do you feel about this? Would you feel comfortable making small talk with a pop star as they make you noodles, or would you rather stick to the usual, anonymous vending machine which does everything for you? As ever, let us know in the comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts on this one!

 

 

Original article here.

Free Wi-Fi

Everyone loves free things, no matter what they are, and most people if they can get something for free, they will.

Now a Japanese (of course) Vending Machines company has come into there own by offering free Wi-Fi for using the machine. Users then must stay within a 50 meter radius of this machine to have access to wi-fi internet on any wi-fi enabled device, for 30 minutes before you get logged out and have to log back in again (and you don’t have to buy another drink!)

As we all know, Japan is crazy for vending machines, and the more technologically advanced the better. Free Wi-fi perks up everyone’s day, especially as data plans get squeezed and more expensive, this coupled with the interesting and unusual drinks options is sure to make these machines a hit across Japan. Manufacturer Asahi Beverages hope to roll out 1,000 machines during 2012, and up to 10,000 over the next five years., which not only shows the extent of the popularity of vending machines across Japan but also the faith Asahi has in these machines that having a Wi-fi enabled machines will not only draw customers to the machine in the first place but the 30 minutes (extendable) window could mean that the customer will buy their drink, have a poke around on the Internet, realise their drink is finished and buy another (and hopefully repeat this several times!)

As we are seeing more and more, Japan is taking interactive vending machines to another level, the introduction of QR codes on Coca-Cola machines, and face recognition technology to suggest drinks to the customer, and I for one can’t wait to see what impact this Wi-Fi machine has on the Japanese market and how this will develop and transform the market!

Ohhhh…Japan

Yet again, Japan have made technological advances in the vending world the rest of us can but dream of.

Intel, Snaken and Okaya Electronics have taken the next step in touch screen vending machines. This latest incarnation boasts a 65-inch HD screen (!) and understated graphics so as to drawn people in with out being garish and obnoxious.

GizModo called it the “vending machine of tomorrow” thanks to the 65″ screen, which like its predecessors features a transparent screen so consumers can still see the product inside, whilst being entertained by a touch screen – similar to that on a smart phone – but with subtle animations of birds  that do not distract from he transparency of the machines touch controlled window.

To make this even more exciting and intuitive, the machine has an inbuilt camera to identify customers based on age and gender to therefore generate demographic appropriate adverts. What makes this machine extra special, is, should there be an emergency, it will display evacuation routes.

Although currently vending snacks and drinks, this machine could open up to a potential market including cosmetics and wine.

What do you think to this? Can you see super intuitive vending machines working over here England? Would you like to see adverts based on your gender or age? As ever, leave a comment below and let us know how you feel!!

Game while you guzzle?

Coca-Cola in Japan is modifying many of its vending machines to make them far more interactive with users. This is the next stage in Coca-Cola’s ‘Happiness’ campaign and will promote  brand loyalty for Coke customers.  The addition of QR codes onto machines mean that customers can interactive with the machine and create it a virtual identity, allowing customers to think of a machine they frequently visit as “my machine.”

Checking in at the machine will earn users badges and points, which can be spent customising “their” machine with things like skins, shoes and backgrounds.  The more a customer interacts with a machine, the more personalised its response will be, sending information such as brand updates and news and weather. Also available will be a badge to show that a user has visited machines through out the country – not an easy feat at all, but one no doubt hardcore game and Coke fans will be excited to try and achieve!

Registration for the so-called “Happiness Quest” opens next week, with an added promotional incentive – a one million yen prize which is sure to make it very popular.

This is sure to be a success for Coca-Cola if not just by their sheer presence in the vending world in Japan – by the end of March 2012, they are hoping to have 820,000 machines with QR codes on- but because everyone loves a game, and rather than tweeting “I’m using a vending machine” customers can now scan the QR code and play a quick game as they wait for the bottle of coke to vend. Exciting stuff!

Prejudiced Vending Machines

A new interactive touch screen vending machine has been developed in Japan which recommends drinks based on the appearance of consumers.

Two of the vending machines currently live in a train station in Shinagawa, Japan, and at the moment are the only ones of their kind. However, the manufacturers intend to install a further 500 units of the interactive touch screen vending machine around the country in the next two years.

When the drinks vending machines are not in use, the large 47 inch built-in touch screens display adverts and promotional material based on factors including time, season and temperature. However, when a customer approaches, images are shown of the drinks available from the vending machines, with personal product recommendations instantly highlighted.

Drink recommendations come from sensors integrated within the machines which attempt to recognise the age and gender of the user. With apparent 75% accuracy, this information is then used to suggest different products based on presupposed buying trends. It is hoped this method of targeted advertising will increase sales through the vending machines, which has proven successful for other sectors, such as targeted marketing through sponsored advertising on internet search engines.

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