The first 'documented' vending machine dates back to the 1st century. A machine dispensed holy water in exchange for a coin. The coin fell on a pan that was attached to a lever. This lever then opened a valve and some holy water flowed out. Finally, in 1867, the government patented the first fully automatic vending machine, a stamp vending machine designed by British Simon Denham. Nowadays, it is impossible to imagine a city without vending machines. Especially in Japan, Singapore and Taiwan, vending machines are extremely popular and entire streets are filled with them. With more than 5.5 million vending machines, Japan is the real front runner, which equates to approximately 1 vending machine for every 25 inhabitants.
Growing market, the benefits of a vending machine
Analysts predict that the number of vending machines worldwide will grow to 8.9 million units in 2024. This is not very surprising, because selling via a vending machine has many benefits. For example, you no longer need (expensive) staff and vending machines are very easy to manage. Once installed, a vending machine requires little or no maintenance. And last but not least; vending machines make money!
Smart vending machines
Just like the development of mobile phones into smartphones, vending machines are becoming increasingly 'smart'. Think of new technologies such as the digital touch screen, IoT, advanced payment solutions via mobile apps and QR code and identification technologies (NFC, RFID). Modern vending machines are (energy) efficient, enable a more interactive user experience, reduce operating costs thanks to the possibility of remote management and back-end analysis.
Remarkable vending machines
Partly due to technological developments, increasingly complex products can be offered and the content is also increasingly varied, for example electronics, art, hot dishes or even toilet paper. The possibilities are endless...
1. Gold on the go
Spotted in the United Kingdom and the United Emirates: a vending machine where you can exchange money for gold bars or gold coins. The machine checks the price of gold in real time.
2. Insect snacks
In the city of Kumamoto (Japan) there is a vending machine with edible insects. The machine offers grasshoppers, crickets and beetles. For beginners, the chocolate-covered grasshoppers are particularly recommended. The real daredevil can opt for the beetles that are easily 5.5 cm in size.
3. Dating via a vending machine
For people who are tired of swiping, there is now a vending machine for men and women who want to date in a low-tech way. After inserting a cash amount, you get a capsule with a description and the contact details of your potential new love.
4. Getting a car out of a vending machine
There are already about 28 of them in the United States, Carvana's car vending machines. The website allows customers to choose from over 20,000 vehicles, arrange financing and schedule a pick-up date. Customers who decide to pick up their car at the vending machine receive a Carvana coin on arrival that is dropped into the machine, after which the car 'rolls' down.
5. Fast food from a machine
Although for the Dutch it is quite normal to get fast food snacks (Febo) from a vending machine, for many countries this is still a novelty. Nevertheless, vending machines that provide hot dishes are appearing more and more often in various countries. This year, the first pizza vending machine was installed in Rome. In Poland, a few students developed the Kebab Vending Machine:
6. Get rid of the anger
A remarkable vending machine, which has not (yet) made a commercial breakthrough, is the 'anger release machine'. Designed by two designers, it comes with breakable items such as tableware, which you can smash as part of your anger management therapy.
7. Cute nails
We are always in a hurry, so why go to a beauty salon for an elaborate nail treatment? In Korea, you can get this done on the street via a vending machine. The customer chooses a design on the spot, which is then applied to the nails.
8. Never apply sunscreen again
Now that we are increasingly aware of the dangers of going out in the sun without protection, the 'sunscreen mist' vending machine is ideal. No more sticky sunscreen bottles covered in sand, and it also saves a lot of plastic waste.
9. Vending by mood
The Dr. Whippy ice cream machine adapts itself to your mood. Through the built-in voice stress analyser, the machine can determine how happy or unhappy you feel. The worse you feel, the more ice cream the machine dispenses!
10. Contemporary camouflage
In some countries, vending machines are increasingly taking over the streets. If you want to avoid social contact or hide from other misfortunes, you can now dress up in a vending machine outfit by artist Aya Tsukioka.
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