ViaTouch Media’s “smart-shelf” vending machine arrived in the States back in April called “Lisa”. But not for long, as it’s now been renamed “Vicki”. So what is “Vicki”?
Vicki stands for ViaTouch Intellishelf Cognitive Kinetic Interactions – wow! 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.
Rather 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, through visual AI, Vicki can turn off the lights for all products that don’t meet the requirement.
The virtual assistant can also suggest special offers and alert shoppers to promotions and the company say she can “cozy up to customers on a more personal level” by tying into their social media platforms.
Vicki can ask patrons for feedback on the products they select and those they put back. During the process, the machine can collect and analyse 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 authorising 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.
That’s one smart vending machine.