A new Japanese vending machine uses facial recognition technology to recommend canned drinks based on the customer’s age and gender. Not surprisingly, sales have tripled over those from regular vending machines. (Thanks to our Builders Tea man, Mr Chiu.)
Developed by JR East Water Business Co, a subsidiary of railway firm JR East Co, The machines use large touch-panel screens with sensors that allow the machine to determine the characteristics of an approaching customer. Recommended labels will then appear on specific drink products.
Suggestions are based on market research, and may change depending on the temperature and time of day. If the customer is a man, the machine is likely to recommend a canned coffee drink. If the customer is in his or her fifties, though, that recommendation is likely to be green tea. A woman in her twenties will be recommended a tea drink or slightly sweeter product. It’s a lot more fun for people to have this kind of interaction with vending machines, and it improves the whole buying experience.
So far, the company has tested one machine at a Tokyo train station but plans to add five machines at central Tokyo Station, with the network to be expanded to other major Tokyo stations and nearby suburban areas by early in 2011. Some 500 of the machines should be available in Tokyo and surrounding areas by March 2012.