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Evolving Vending Automation Technology

What do you think of when you think about your experience with vending machine technology? Going up to a Coke™ machine, depositing your money and selecting your drink?

Think again. Vending machine automation is on the fast track. Today Coca-Cola’s Freestyle soda fountains dispense more than 120 flavors. Airport kiosks provide smartphones, DVDs and earphones to travelers on the go. Fresh, hot pizza made-to-order from a vending machine that kneads its own dough is a reality.

Jeffrey Lumetta, Vice President of Technology at Jabil was recently interviewed by Design News about the technology behind the evolving vending automation business.

Once a purely mechanical technology, vending machines have become showcases for the latest advances in microcircuits, processors, wireless communications, data storage and transfer, and human interfaces.

According to Lumetta, some of the key technologies contributing to the rapidly evolving vending automation business are:

  • Telematics – wired and wireless communications allow vending operators to closely monitor machines and consumption preventing machine malfunctions, reducing costly repairs, and fine-tuning resupply visits.
  • Increased data storage capabilities – large amounts of stored data allows companies to track user preferences and customize their product marketing based on those preferences.
  • Human machine interface – engineers are working on technologies that will enable vending machines to identity the voice, face, or gestures of the customer standing in front of it.
  • Near Field Communication (NFC)– technology that allows one machine to pass data to another machine when they are in close proximity to each other.
  • Mobile Payment – mobile computing is changing the way users interact with vending machines. Starbucks ™ customers who have a prepaid account and an iPhone app can purchase products by scanning a barcode displayed on their smartphone.

At the rate vending automation is evolving, with its combination of electronics, precision robotics, telemetry and greater computing power, what new products and services will benefit?

Read the full article on Design News – Slideshow: Vending Machines Undergo a Complete Overhaul.

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