Japan is famous for its vending machines but what’s fascinating about them is not just the sheer number that exist in the country, nor even their variety (everything from drinks to food, newspaper, toys, and used panties — and everything in between).
It’s how the technology behind them keeps on evolving.
From vending machines with solar panels to touch-panel vendors that can sense the demographic of the customer and suggest drinks on the display, there are always new things that can be added to the functionality and user experience.
Some are more practical than others. We’re not sure if this new development will become a fixture, but we like it nonetheless.
Kotaku reports that Kirin will release a “selfie vending machine”. Fitted with a large LCD display and camera, the idea is you take a free selfie of yourself against a range of backgrounds, which then connects to Line so you can share it with friends.
Selfies, known as jidori in Japanese, are popular locally, not least because it is similar to the long-established activity of purikura (literally, “print club”), photo booths that allow you to take inventive selfies with your friends and then decorate and customize the images.
In fact, this “selfie vending machine” is more like a “purikura vending machine” in spirit, since you aren’t holding the vendor in your actual hands!
Of course, there are lots of implications and potential for usage here, from branded backgrounds to localized digital content right there in images with you. You could take a selfie with a local regional mascot or historical hero, for example, since vending machines are nearly always found at major tourist locations. And when it’s not being used for selfies, the display can also show ads, local information, emergency alerts, and so on.
Look out for the vending machines across Japan from this month. In a nice touch for tourists, there will also be English, Chinese, and Korean interface options.