Vending machine integrated with touch application to dispense more than drinks Consumers probably do not expect anything but drinks to come out from a Coca-Cola vending machine. onActivity used cutting-edge technology and outside-the-box creativity to create interactive drink machines which dispense more than drinks, entertaining and refreshing consumers with every transaction.
In 2013 Swire Beverages Hong Kong wanted to transform their vending machines into something fun and innovative and install them around Hong Kong to engage with customers and enhance their brand experience. The project was masterminded by onActivity, who successfully transformed old machines into interactive touch-based vending machines.
Instead of the usual buttons, the new machine has a big touch screen divided into four sections. At the top runs a live feed of current news, time and weather information, and a row of App icons for customers to play with. Below that is the drink selection panel – on touching a bottle or can, it will pop up and the relevant product and price information is shown. The third part is video display, running ads or broadcasting shopping mall events. The last section shows useful customer information like special promotions or free parking offers of the venue, etc.
The Design onActivity created these interactive vending machines with content management. Our digital signage software is running on a player inside and integrates with the Vending Machine Controller (VMC) interface, combining digital advertising, public information & wayfinding applications with the normal functionality of a vending machine.
Media content layers including video background, advertising media, icons, news ticker text are all composed natively in the authoring tool. Live local news and weather information is coming from online source connecting through WiFi. The same data connection tool is responsible for the data acquisition as well as the processing required to turn the live data to presentable information on the screen.
Content managers are trained to maintain the content and layout changes, like shopping mall logo, advertising video and way-finding information. Additional user interfaces are also provided for the service labour to handle their routine work like drinks type switching. The modular system integration between hardware control unit and software application facilitates future upgrades.
The Challenges The most challenging part of the project is how to turn the original electronics and mechanics of the hardware to talk to a media controller. Vending operations like drink selection, payment request, drink dispensing, payment change, and error handling have been supported by a proprietary controller that only deal with conventional buttons and lights. The team has developed the complete state machine logic with the powerful data connection tool by our digital signage solution. The result is a seamless integration of vending machine operation and responsive screen logic. This high level of customization and system integration is something that has never been achieved before.