LAS VEGAS -- In late April, Pepsi took the wraps off a prototype beverage vender powered by Mircosoft's Kinect for Windows motion-sensing technology during the National Automatic Merchandising Association's OneShow here.
Building upon its Pepsi Interactive Vending machine, which is testing in several locations throughout the U.S., the Kinect for Windows screen responds to movement and turns the user into an avatar. This allows patrons to interact with the machine touch-free, using hand gestures to buy beverages or play a game of chance to win a free drink. Users also have the option to record a video to post directly on the machine's screen for viewing. An NFC reader completes the "touchless" vending experience.
Nutritional information is easily accessible on the Kinect-powered vender's screen, and popular YouTube videos can be viewed on demand. Users can also charge their mobile devices by plugging them into specially designed AC-power outlets and USB ports directly on the machine.
"We're always looking for new, innovative ways to engage consumers in our brands and we're excited to continue exploring Kinect for Windows' motion-sensing technology for our vending equipment," said Christine Sisler, vice president, Equipment Innovation for PepsiCo Americas Beverages. "This project is in a conceptual phase right now, and we're looking forward to learning more."
The Purchase, NY-based drink and snack giant is the only food and beverage company with which Microsoft has partnered to implement the technology on a vending machine. The gesture-controlled prototype builds upon PepsiCo's original interactive vender made by Creedmore, NC-based Flextronics, by swapping out the Webcam for a Kinect for Windows sensor, and installing new software.
San Francisco-based agency Float Hybrid Entertainment designed the machine's user interface. PepsiCo also partnered with YouTube television show "What's Trending" and commercial YouTube channel Geek & Sundry for the video content.
About a dozen second-generation Pepsi Interactive Vending machines are under pilot at malls across the country. The company has expanded the field test by deploying three machines at ski resorts in Vail, CO, and said it plans to extend it further through additional partnerships in the coming months.
Kinect made its debut in 2011 as a motion-sensing input system for the Microsoft's Xbox 360 videogame console and PCs.