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TOKYO -- A new Japanese canned drink vending machine uses facial recognition technology to "recommend" drinks to patrons.
Sensors in the touchscreen vending machine detect the person's age and gender and suggest drinks he or she is most likely to favor, based on market research. If a young man walks up to the machine, for example, the machine displays an image of canned coffee; for an older man, the machine suggests green tea. Young women might be shown an image of sweeter canned drinks. Suggested products may also change depending on the temperature and time of day.
The machine is manufactured by JR East Water Business Co., a subsidiary of railway firm JR East Co. The company has tested a single machine at a Tokyo train station and plans to add five machines at central Tokyo Station this month. Longer-term plans include expanding to other major Tokyo stations and nearby suburban areas by early in 2011 and deploying some 500 of the machines in Tokyo and surrounding areas by March 2012, according to the Reuters news agency.