PepsiCo unveils 'social' vending machine; telemetry for snacks

PepsiCo has unveiled a networked vending machine system that allows consumers to gift beverages to others and operators to remotely track inventory levels.

Food and beverage giant PepsiCo on Thursday announced the launch of a networked vending machine system that allows consumers to gift beverages to others and operators to remotely track inventory levels.

The company calls it its "Social Vending System." The new machines employ an interactive touchscreen with which consumers can send a gift to a friend by selecting a beverage, then entering a recipient's name, mobile phone number and a personalized text or video message, recorded directly at the machine. (None of the information is stored.)

The gift is then delivered with a system code and instructions to redeem it at any social-enabled PepsiCo vending system. (There's also a pay-it-forward way to gift a drink to a total stranger.) In many ways, the new system takes the codes you find printed on bottle caps five steps further.

But the real importance of the product is its connected, telemetric nature, which allows customers to more closely manage inventory levels and deliver scheduling remotely.

A prototype of the system -- conceived by PepsiCo's new "Equipment Innovation" group and executed by DCI Marketing and Protagonist -- will debut at the National Automatic Merchandising Association’s One Show in Chicago on April 27.

The company says it will test the concept with "key strategic partners" later this year.

Here's a look in a video:

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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