Japanese vending machines use video analytics to make drink recommendations

August 10, 2010 by Dave Haynes

If I ever squirted out of the rail car at a stop on the JR East transport system in Japan, I doubt anything would make me feel finer than a cold bottle of Pocari Sweat.

Yes, evidently the Japanese have a drink called Sweat – presumably some sort of sports drink that maybe wouldn’t run with that handle in North America.

I know this because that rail system has introduced, today, the first of what is targeted to be hundreds of hybrid vending machine/digital sign systems on the passenger platforms. CrunchGear reports the systems use video analytics to bracket onlooker faces and determine gender and age, and then recommend drinks.

The new system is larger than the Yahoo Japan model and can detect one’s sex and age, too. All that customers need to do is to stand in front of the system, wait for it to work its magic through a camera, and then choose the drink that the system recommends by pushing the drink’s icon on a 47-inch touch panel.

I assume if you really don’t, for some odd reason, feel like Sweat – you don’t have to opt for that recommendation. I also have my doubts the tech can do much more than gender and approximate age range like kid, adult, senior, with even gender a little tricky.

If there’s no one around, the machine displays information like the current time or temperature, but it also can show ads or videos it downloads via Wimax. The first machine was put up at Shinagawa station in central Tokyo today, with 500 more systems to follow in the next two years.

pic from Keitai Watch

Leave a comment