Strange Vending Machines of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Many people have heard about the many unusual types of vending machines that have become more prevalent in recent periods. With the country carrying the most vending machines (United States at over 6.9 million), and the country with the highest density of vending machines (Japan with one vending machine for every 23 people), readily coming up with the latest concepts in technology, the vending machine business appears to be hopping. But some research shows this isn’t the first time people have been putting together outlandish vending machines, although that doesn’t mean they weren’t profitable.

In 1963, farmers across the United Kingdom bought egg vending machines, trusting the devices to store the eggs and deliver the goods to the paying customer without ever going bad or cracking. The 60s became a time when much more “grocery shopping” turned into quick trips to a large vending machine kiosk where you could get all or most of what you need.

Today, we have froyo and pizza vending machines alongside our standard soda bottle and chips and Chex Mix vending machines. Books, feminine hygiene products, and violin strings can all be found in various vending machines worldwide. The Middle East steps up their vending machines by selling gold in them. In Atlanta, GA, the first car vending machine opened up in 2013. People are starting to discover the huge range of possibilities there are with vending machines.

One futuristic company, Innovative Vending Solutions is working with many brands and products to create vending machines that function as a contest, or connect to social media and deliver in return for a a branded tweet or Instagram post. Many of the company’s machines feature large touch screens and the staff is confident they can wotk with anyone’s unusual vending request.

Lee, Bruce Y. “Current and Future Trends in Vending Machines.” Forbes, 22 April 2016, Accessed 24 Oct. 2016.

Forbe’s contributor, Bruce Y Lee, made some predictions earlier this year about the future of vending machines. He predicts that the machines will continue the switch over to healthier options and could start to do more to feature nutritional content. He also predicts food machines that offer more customizations and can cook and prepare food relatively fresh. Lee thinks that similar to the concept of Innovative Vending Solutions, more machines could be activated by a social media post or something on an app that sends the payment easier than dollars and quarters. As machines with new functions pop up, Lee says they will start to show up in new locations where vending machines typically weren’t present. His final prediction is that the machine itself could begin to interact more with you, by adding a voice not unlike Siri, or by remembering and personalizing each person’s orders.

Bruce Lee is a professor at John Hopkins School and an Executive Director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center and Direct of Operations at the International Vaccine Access Center.He makes a compelling argument in his article backed up by many of the current trends moving toward healthier machines, vending machines with LCD screen making products easy and fun to customize and connecting machines to social media and external technology. It makes sense that new types of vending machines will be wanted in new places as well.

Considering what is to come in vending machines is a great place to get started on ideas for my paper. Do I agree with where the vending machines are headed and what paths would I prefer to see these machines going down?


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