Vending machines are joining The Internet of Things.
And these are hardly traditional snack vending machines, since they come loaded with networked and interactive capabilities.
These include targeted advertising, facial recognition, touch screens, data analysis and inventory tracking, all used in the simple process of purchasing a snack.
I got a demonstration of the vending machine at the NRF Big Show in New York this week.
A consumer can use the 46-inch touch screen on the front of the machine to view a product in 3D, spin it around and get nutritional information. They can add multiple products to the cart before paying to check out.
But there are more networking things going on behind the scenes.
When a purchase is made, the information is instantly sent via the cloud to a central location where the monitoring of each sale in a town, city or country can be seen on a map in real time.
For replenishment, the distributor can see exactly what’s needed in each machine.
The company behind the Diji Touch vending machine is Mondelez, one of the world’s largest snack makers, along with Microsoft, whose Windows 10 operating system powers it.
Most interestingly, there’s a camera inside the top of the vending machine and rotating ads run in a large space at the top of the machine.
Using the camera and facial recognition to identify the demographics of the consumer in front of the machine, the advertising at the top changes to be most relevant to each snack buyer.
From a market testing standpoint, ads can be tested in real time and measured against the immediate product purchase.
Just as consumers will be seeing more and more of these types of IoT devices sprout up in the marketplaces, many of these devices will have cameras and they also will be watching the market.