Big brother is a vending machine: Coke reveals smart fridge 2; even smarter

By Lucy Clark | 1 May 2014
Coca-Cola Amatil's smart fridge

A new generation of all-seeing, all-knowing vending machines is coming.

Coca-Cola Amatil has been testing interactive fridges for the past year, and has now come up with a box that can be fitted to the top of any vending machine or ATM to make it smart: the IM Display Box.

Developed by Australian digital agency TKM9, the box uses Microsoft Kinect technology to incorporate gesture recognition, facial recognition, augmented reality, and it picks up data on consumers who interact with the vending machine.

The IM Display Box is the result of Coke's trial of 50 smart fridges over the past 12 months across Australia, Atlanta, Tokyo and London. The coolers feature a transparent digital screen on the front, an interactive screen on the side and a camera with facial recognition technology to capture consumers' age, gender and mood. Relevant content, from campaigns to games to product information, can then be served to consumers.

Mark Hodgens with CCA's smart fridge and the IM Display Box

Mark Hodgens, CEO of TKM9, outlined a jukebox campaign where the fridge played a song a consumer might like, based on their gender, approximate age and mood. In a 12-hour period, the machine had 9,000 people interact with it.

Hodgens said: “In some places we got amazing results, but in others, such as if we put the machine in a small fish and chip shop or in a petrol service station where people don't necessarily want to hang around, the results were not so good. But, if we do it right, the conversion is amazing.”

Stuart Port, strategy manager at Coca-Cola Amatil, said: “One of the big learnings for us was how do we have relevant content in relevant places. We need to get the mix right of not just brand-led campaigns, but relevant price-based activity to support a product as well.”

The problem with the fridge? Price. The smart fridges aren't cheap. So the IM Display Box has been created to make the technology more affordable. The product is also easier to install and can be made to fit any shape or size of vending machine.

Port said: “Learning from the fridge, we have ended up with a product that goes on top of any vending machine or ATM, which, using Microsoft Kinect technology, does gesture recognition, facial recognition, augmented reality and picks up analytics.”

TKM9 has made a prototype of the IM Display Box. It is yet to be rolled out into the market.

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