Smart Water Vending Machines

“If you walk through certain JR East stations in Tokyo, you may have seen a huge, gray, Acure vending machine with tall, vertical eyes gazing around at people waiting for their trains.

JR East Water Business Co., the beverage company of the JR East group, has been operating these smart, oversized vending machines (they say bigger heads means bigger brains means more smarts, especially regarding dinosaurs and male humans) in Shinagawa since August, and last month at Tokyo station”, – wrote Akihabara News.

“A 47-inch touchscreen panel dominates the front of this beast, which shows two tall eyes when in sleep mode and switches to the storefront mode, which displays available drinks (and hides ones that are sold out, so that no ugly red “Sold out” buttons appear).

Payment can be made in the traditional hard money method, as well as with a Suica or a FeliCa on a cell phone.

What makes this vending machine even more interesting is that there is a camera above the screen that determines the age and gender of a person standing in front of it, which the machine uses to “subtly” offer demographically-targeted drink selections, as well as collect marketing data based on customer’s actual choices – no identifiable images or information are stored. That point-of-sale marketing data is pushed to a central management server via WiMAX.”

JR East Water Business hopes to expand them to five hundred vending machines within the next two years.

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