Artificial Intelligence Transforms Lisa Into Vicki; High-Tech Vending Machine Ships In August

Posted On: 6/20/2017

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TAGS: vending machine, smart vending machine, ViaTouch Media, smart-shelf vending machine, ViaTouch Intellishelf Cognitive Kinetic Interactions, Tom Murn

FARMINGDALE, NY -- Ever-evolving, ViaTouch Media's smart-shelf vending machine arrived on the scene, with much fanfare, in April. Originally dubbed Lisa, it's now been renamed Vicki, with the addition of artificial intelligence that brings the user experience more in line with consumers' smartphones. It's expected to begin shipping in August.

The vending industry got its first look at Vicki -- which stands for ViaTouch Intellishelf Cognitive Kinetic Interactions -- at the National Automatic Merchandising Association's 2017 OneShow in Las Vegas. The high-tech vender is equipped with smart shelves that "know" which products customers take, and also if they put any back. The items they retrieve appear on the machine's display, along with corresponding prices. Customers are charged for their merchandise after the door closes.

Like Apple's Siri and Amazon's intelligent personal assistant Alexa, Vicki can personally greet patrons; they can ask her questions, and she can answer them. If a customer asks Vicki which snacks in the machine are gluten-free or organic, for example, she will tell them. In addition to her auditory response, through visual artificial intelligence, Vicki can turn off the lights for all products that don't meet the requirement.

The virtual clerk can also suggest special offers and alert shoppers to promotions. She can cozy up to customers on a more personal level by tying into their social media platforms. Additionally, Vicki can ask patrons for feedback on the products they select and those they put back. During the process, the machine can collect and analyze data about how they shop, and share it with brands and retailers.

The machine features directional speakers, so only the person standing in front of it hears the sounds.

Also new, since the machine's first rendition as Lisa, is the addition of eye-scanning technology as an option for patrons to open the machine's door by authorizing payment, along with thumbprint biometrics, their smartphones or credit cards. Another new feature has blind patrons in mind: a product the customer selects vibrates, as a way to guide them to it.

ViaTouch Media's forward-thinking approach to vending has caught the eye of mainstream media. It's graced the pages of Forbes magazine and Crain's New York Business in recent months.

Vicki vending machine, Tom Murn
MEET VICKI: Introducing Vicki at the NAMA OneShow, from left, are ViaTouch Media founder Tom Murn (r.) and (l. to r.) Vicki's engineering team, Eric Gonazeles, Robert Hurtado and James Winsor.