Can’t decide what to drink? This machine knows what you’d like…

29 Jan

When you think of Japan what is the image you have?
Many people who’ve never been to Japan imagine it to be ancient and traditional. Others imagine Japan is futuristic and high-tech.

Both of these images are accurate. In Tokyo you can often see the ultra-modern side-by-side with ancient traditional.

Another thing that visitors to Japan are often surprised by is the number of excellent convenient 自動販売機 (vending machines) here.

Vending machines are plentiful in Japan and can be found everywhere. And Japan has vending machines that sell everything you can imagine…newspapers, hot and cold drinks, fruit, eggs, rice, beer, umbrellas, magazines, videos, stamps, sandwiches, and so much more.

And the machines themselves are modern and convenient.
In Japan, you can make pay for purchases at most vending machines, train and subways stations, convenient stores, etc with cash of course, but also with your train pass card or your cellular phone!

Well, as if the vending machines here weren’t high-tech enough…now many vending machines across Japan are being replaced with new futuristic vending machines.

Rather than having a display of cans and bottles of the drink choices available in the machine, these new machines have a digital interactive display.
When there aren’t any people in it’s immediate vicinity, it displays a cartoon face and randomly has a “speech bubble” that offers random questions…such as “Are you thirsty?” or “Would you like to buy something?”

Japan's newest vending machine

But once someone moves closer to it, the digital display shows the choice of drinks…but the most amazing aspect of this new machine is that it scans the faces of potential customers and then offers a few 「おすすめ」 (recommendations) based on the person’s approximate age and gender.

Check out this TV news broadcast about it:

12 Responses to “Can’t decide what to drink? This machine knows what you’d like…”

  1. Tom Webster January 31, 2011 at 1:54 am #

    I wonder whether I would ever be thirsty enough to drink something called “Pocari Sweat” urgh


    • tokyo5 January 31, 2011 at 3:37 am #

      Despite it’s unusual name, Pocari Sweat is simply a “sports drink”.


  2. ladyjustine January 30, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    No… they’re far too traditional. Even if it were nice, they’d scorn it and say the only way to have coffee is through a filter machine. Even instant coffee sits on its own next to chicory coffee – that’s how traditional they are. Not that I mind. You get a perfectly good brew at each bar. However, you can’t get Glamorous Body and that, I feel, is a gap in the market. Who knew there should be a specific coffee for over-40s? And now that I know that there is, I can’t live with unspecific coffee. Oh, my favourite Japan vending machine sold “Cider-meets-condensed-milk” – and that’s another thing you wouldn’t have thought would exist!!


    • tokyo5 January 30, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

      That’s one of the many things I love about living in Tokyo…anything you might want can be found here!


  3. ladyjustine January 29, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    I miss Pocari Sweat… And I miss all the different coffees – particularly wild drip and ‘glamorous body’ – the coffee for the over 40s!


    • tokyo5 January 29, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

      Do they sell “canned coffee” in France?


  4. metalodyssey January 29, 2011 at 5:04 am #

    It’s all politics here in the U.S.A., heck, in order to have a fabulous service like using your cell phone to be scanned, then having the cost added to your phone bill… man, that would take “lobbying” in Washington D.C. to get done!! It would have to most likely “pass legislation” without a doubt. When it comes to “convenience” over here… that old phrase comes to my Metal mind: “Forget about it!”


    • tokyo5 January 29, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

      >When it comes to “convenience” over here… that old phrase comes to my Metal mind: “Forget about it!”

      That reminds me…when we visited Florida about seven years ago, I went to a convenience store to buy a beer but the cooler with the beer was locked. The cashier told me it was a Florida law that prohibited the sale of alcohol late at night.
      Kind of ironic to call that a “convenience” store. 😉


      • metalodyssey January 30, 2011 at 8:02 am #

        Exactly! Plus, where is the “logic” where a “convenience” store is prohibited from selling beer “late at night”… yet the bars, clubs and taverns can sell beer… “late at night”? What’s the difference? Again, it’s all about politicians making their “own” rules as they go. They call the differential treatment of public establishments over here as… “loopholes”.


      • tokyo5 January 30, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

        >where is the “logic” where a “convenience” store is prohibited from selling beer “late at night”

        I wondered the same thing.

        Some parts of America can’t sell alcohol on Sundays or X-mas, I’ve heard.


  5. metalodyssey January 29, 2011 at 1:37 am #

    I wish those vending machines were around where I live here in Pennsylvania… or anywhere in the U.S.! We still have those ancient antique vending machines that “play games” with you… by not having the bag of chips fall off that metal spiral to the compartment below. I’ve recently had to “shake” one of these machines to get my daughters bag of chips to fall down! Then, if you lose your money… no one is going to refund it. Unless it’s a vending machine in a “work place”. Then you just leave a sticky note attached to the machine with the $$ you lost written on it. The vendor “usually” leaves the $$ for you. Then, more often than not, these prehistoric vending machines will “eat” a quarter, dime or nickel on you… and act like you are “short” with your paying for the item!!! AAAAHHHHHHH!

    These are the same crappy vending machines that existed when you lived in the U.S.!!! Yup, talk about progress here.


    • tokyo5 January 29, 2011 at 2:51 am #

      I can’t believe America still uses those old-fashioned machines that don’t work properly!

      In Japan, I don’t even need to use coins…I can also pay with a ¥1,000 bill (about US$12) and get change or my train pass can be scanned on the machine and used to pay for a drink. I could even scan my cell-phone on the machine and have the cost of the drink automatically added to my phone bill.


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