July 10, 2023

Vending Machines are Evolving with Cutting-edge Technology

Ito En (green tea mega-brand) has begun a demonstration test using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze users' facial expressions and suggest products that match their moods. The "emotion-reading vending machine" mechanism is "When you stare at the tablet installed in the vending machine for about five seconds, it will display three product recommendations on the screen that match your mood." The camera captures the movement of facial muscles. If it detects tiredness, it recommends nutritional drinks or refreshing carbonated beverages.

Joining hands is the Israeli start-up company Solo. They are working on software that uses AI to analyze the subtle facial expressions that appear unconsciously. The system is now on a trial basis at five locations, including offices and commercial facilities, and the AI is currently being improved based on the data collected.

The products handled by vending machines have expanded from beverages to food and daily necessities.

According to the Japan Vending System Manufacturers Association, food vending machines reached 77,700 units in 2022, up 7% from the previous year. The growth is for frozen foods. Sanden Retail Systems' frozen food vending machine, "Do-Hiemon," has exceeded 7,000 units. There is a high need for installation by restaurants that need more staff and want to take advantage of take-out and after-hours sales opportunities.