SAN FRANCISCO -- A larger-than-life vending machine dispensing mountain bikes, surfboards, golf clubs and other high-end giveaways appeared in San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza last month to promote tourism in British Columbia.
The 14-ft.-tall, 10-ft.-wide vending machine is part of Tourism British Columbia's 100 BC Moments campaign, which aims to attract tourists to the province this summer by showing them what it has to offer.
San Franciscans walking in the plaza May 17 through 19 were encouraged to select a "Great B.C. Moment" from the machine's touchscreen display to win free gifts, ranging from bikes and kayaks to skis and picnic blankets. Each item was selected to inspire travel to British Columbia, and accompanied by a postcard with a 10% off discount booking code with Air Canada. | SEE VIDEO
The machine will move to other U.S. cities throughout the summer.
"We were thrilled to return to California to surprise San Franciscans with the BC Moments Machine," said Carol Nelson, executive director of marketing of Tourism BC. "The installation allowed us to show the people of San Francisco the diverse range of travel experiences they can find in British Columbia this summer in a way that was extremely fun, and hopefully very memorable."
The interactive machine, custom designed by visual production agency The Media Merchants, runs from one server feeding four screens: a 22" touchscreen, a 22" messaging screen, a 6x8-ft. rear-projection screen for the large vending display and an internal administration screen. To make the most of the machine's limited space, a projector and custom mirror system reflects imagery onto the external vending display.
The system runs a custom application developed in Open Frameworks and features a real-time inventory-management system that prevents users from selecting out-of-stock items.
"To create moments that clearly communicate just how awesome vacationing in BC is, we planned out how the unit would look and work, including how the internals and interactive system would function and how the mementos would be stored," said TMM technical director Anthony Diehl. "The final result, from the sheer size and impact of the BC Moments machine to the very realistic user interface and dispensing process, made a huge impact, and left most visitors more than a little stunned."
The high-profile promotion is the second in the busy San Francisco plaza for Tourism BC, which is a part of the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation and works to bring in billions of tourism dollars each year to the province. In 2010, it installed an "urban zip line" in the same location that was reportedly an overwhelming success.