Costa Express – an “immersive” vending experience

Coffee Express is a self-service hot beverage kiosk conceived by Costa Coffee, the leading operator of coffeehouses in the UK. The machine offers patrons an “immersive” vending experience by means of a high-definition touchscreen that dominates the store-facing side of the machine. A small adjacent camera covers the area around the vender, delivering images to Intel’s AIM (Audience Impression Metric) Suite technology for interpretation. The system reacts when it detects a passerby’s eyes turning to the CEM-200, and the machine immediately changes the presentation displayed on the screen to engage the onlooker.

US company Bsquare built the user interface, integrated the operating system with the hardware and created a cloud-based back office management system in less than six months.  “The machine is incredibly responsive,” a Bsquare’s spokesperson said. “You touch an element on the screen and it responds very quickly. The software overlays multiple video assets and performs dynamic animation to illustrate the process of brewing a fresh cup of coffee, while simultaneously rendering video to create the atmosphere of an Italian café.”

Costa estimates that the out-of-home coffee market at present is around $28.5 billion a year, and it’s growing quickly. Competition is particularly strong in Europe, which has the highest coffee consumption and concentration of retail outlets. According to the company, the machine leapfrogs existing coffee vending technologies by producing better coffee and giving customers an engaging, immersive experience.

Costa Express installations predominantly are in large retail establishments and main road service / rest stops at present; plans call for expanding the service to other kinds of location. The machines grind and brew the same coffee beans as are used in Costa retail coffee shops, and employ fresh milk to produce premium specialty coffee beverages. Vend prices start at £1.95 (about $3 U.S.).

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