They look innocent enough from a distance, but move up closer these vending machines will go right ahead and read your mind. Or at least they will scan you and make a good guess of what makes you tick, based on your age, sex and appearance.
The machines, made by JR East Water Business, have been installed in train stations in Japan. It had to be Japan, didn’t it – for some reason it’s hard to imagine these flashy high-tech monsters gracing the platforms of Croydon or Reading. But if you are among the lucky Japanese, you’d see three rows of drinks appearing as you approached the machine – these all chosen just for you. Chose your drink by pressing the image on the touchscreen. Once you’ve chosen your product the rest of the operation is as you’d expect: insert coins, or pay with your commuter card.
So far there are only a few machines up and running, but the manufacturer plans to roll out 500 machines over the next few years. These will be placed in busy stations in Tokyo and other large Japanese cities.
The machine has three motions sensors, an a camera to estimates a buyer’s sex and age. The machine doesn’t record video, apparently, but there is some “monitoring” involved as the company wants to collect data on popular drinks and the consumers who were buying them.
“Eventually, we want to offer customised recommendations to every person,” JR East Water’s Toshinari Sasagawa told FastCoDesign.