Giving machines a personal touch
Be it 3D, social media, or “vending as a service”, smart technologies are taking over the world of vending machines. As the company’s “face” to the customer, this point of contact must be modern and appealing. Prototypes that predict how future vending machines might look are on show at the Fraunhofer IAO.
Vending machines and self-service interfaces are finding their way into ever more varied and complex applications. But at the same time, it’s hard to overlook the move away from automated machines in favor of mobile devices. Machines on the street are wandering into our pockets as apps on smartphones.
The self-service and vending machine market is at a crossroads. Which new services might be provided by vending machines? Where might machines be replaced by other options? How might the complete-service concepts offered by operators look, and what would satisfy the needs and demands of the greatest number of users?
Members of the joint research project “Vending-Machine Experience” have been dealing with these and other questions since 2010. Leading machine manufacturers and operators from Germany, Austria and Switzerland have put heads together to form an innovation network to come up with ideas for the next generation of self-service.
The result of some of the concepts developed by the Fraunhofer IAO and its project partners are now being showcased. The Fraunhofer IAO’s exhibition opens up a unique window on the future, showing how the vending-machine landscape of tomorrow might look. Interactive exhibits give people a hands-on experience these future machines.
Among the highlights and demonstrations:
- Pulling in the customer at the vending machine
How can a machine entice a customer? A concept for the vending-machine landscape is an ATM that makes interaction an experience. Like a stall crier on the town marketplace, it draws the customers’ attention and tempts them into staying and trying things out. The vending machine is becoming a more human and intelligent face representing the company.
- Immersion in virtual worlds: a machine with 3D capabilities
Spatial awareness has, until now, been the preserve of cinemagoers wearing special glasses. But immersive technologies are already ripe for vending machines: the demonstrator shows how real 3D-content leads to a much more powerful customer experience.
- Open to all: new approaches to accessibility
One-size-fits-all? The world of universally accessible vending machines has no such thing. Whether you’re visually impaired or a wheelchair user, your ability to use a machine is often restricted by shortcomings in its design. This need not be the case. A common standard allows vending-machine interfaces to be tailored to the needs of specific target groups, which solves a lot of problems and gives everybody unrestricted access.
- Vending as a service: virtualizing the vending machine
Do you really need a different machine for every single service? Or can one machine fulfill several functions? The demonstrator shows what possibilities there are to configure machines so they can be offered for rent, and what options are at the disposal of anyone wanting to set up a selling capability quickly and effectively, and in prime locations.
- Vending machines with a personal touch: digital identity and universal-services concepts
Apps, smartphones, social media: the digital world and reality are melting into one. Vending machines are also part of the digital sphere surrounding us. How do we treat our personal data in these circumstances? What protection mechanisms are there to keep things under control? The exhibit on this theme shows how we can take advantage of personalized services without compromising our right to privacy.
Those interested in taking a look at this new world of vending-machines, or who would like more information on the “Vending-Machine Experience” project, are invited to get in touch with us though our appointed contact.