Looking to the Future of Vending with Facial Recognition.

17 May 2019

One of my earliest blogs, well over ten years ago now, was covering the first recorded dispensing or vending machine. This was widely attributed to Hero of Alexandria who invented a method of providing a measure of holy water in return for an inserted coin or token.

Nothing much changed until relatively recently in the machine payment stakes with coins or tokens to the fore. We do now have contactless card payments, “Apple pay” type systems, and prepayment keys or tags to avoid the carrying of tokens or cash. All very convenient and I guess within a decade any coin/token payment machines will be consigned to history or museums.

Yet things appear to be moving on even further with news this week that a pair of Chinese companies are to offer a 5G smart vending machine that uses facial recognition to determine the user/purchaser of their vending machine contents. I guess a further improvement to the convenience of making a purchase should be welcomed, but to me it seems slightly intrusive and unsettling the thought that a glance at a machine could affect my bank or credit card balance. Having said that, a machine recognising you and saying “Good Morning Colin, would you like your usual Flat White coffee?” could be quite nice!

It’s disconcerting enough at an automated passport control waiting to see if the Borders Agency computer is happy that your face really does match your passport without staring forlornly at a vending machine screen wondering if your black eye from walking into a door or swollen jaw from the dentist will prevent your purchase!

Written by: Colin from KSV Vending

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