Touchscreen Vending Machines Have No Soul

The touchscreen has given modern computing a lot of its feeling and spirit. The touchscreen does not belong in vending machines. Fake food and real samples, tantalisingly top-lit and warmed in an incandescent bath, are what stokes my stomach.

This vending machine, was spotted by friends at core77 in Tokyo. Instead of the classic rows of actual bottles behind plexi, there's a virtual shelf of bottles, with small animations provided when each bottle is clicked on. The new design was apprehensively approached by more than a few salarymen, used to feeding yen or suica card bit-change into machines displaying the actual hot and cold drinks above red and blue buttons indicating a just south of scalding gulp or a refreshing quaff of sweet, cold bottled liquid.

Thing is, I prefer the actual bottles. Yellow, amber, clear, milky, coffee, tea-like liquids, all backlit. Coffees and teas and sport drinks and juices and even little cans of delicious corn soup! In American food machines like those in corners of high schools, we punch in the letter and the number to set coordinates, like a little game of candy-bar driven battleship. You sunk my snickers and fat intake for the day! I'm not so into the soda machines that merely pop out a drink without any sort of mechanical indication of the process, but the thunk of the can down the cabinet is quite nice. Here, I'm not sure I like being so far removed from the process. Or more specifically, the food itself.

Touchscreens facsimiles, with sufficient high resolution or 3D and content, could be nice eventually. I could be swayed in winters by pictures of tropical resorts in the where models comforted by the sun were drinking pina coladas. Or watching a model mouth bite down on a gooey candy bar or decimating the crisp consistency of a chip into particles and mush. I can agree to that seduction; we do everyday in ads. But the tease of the actual foodstuff you want to shove into your oral cavity, behind glass, is quite a nice appetiser. My inner fat person lives for the near presence of these very fake foods. You only have to imagine pressing your nose against the glass of such a contraption, with insufficient funds to complete the dream, to realise what I'm talking about.


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