No trip to Japan would be complete without a report about their vending machines from the future.
A few years back, when I traveled to Japan for the first time, friends put me on scouting missions:
“Find the robotic vending machine that follows you around Shibuya!”
“Find the SMART car vending machine!”
“Find the umbrella / necktie / lobster / underwear vending machine!”
To varying degrees of success, those were hunted down pretty easily (although I regret never seeing the robotic Coke machine).
This time around, we had our quest to find the facial-recognition vending machines.
The machines, developed by a subsidy of the train company JR East Co., analyze your facial features to determine your age and gender and recommend a drink accordingly. They also change recommendations to match time of day and temperature. It uses algorithms such as men prefer canned coffee and women like slightly sweeter drinks.
Sales from these machines have tripled in comparison to regular machines.
The photo is of Peter, disapproving of the machine’s recommended energy drinks, since he in fact wanted an orange juice.
A near-perfect future. ^^