The culture that is Japan

…a new breed of automated seller has smarts, too–these machines can detect your age and gender and offer drink suggestions accordingly.

The new machines under the Acure brand were recently installed in Tokyo's Shinagawa Station and they're about the size of two refrigerators.

Run by a company under the JR East railway group, the "next-generation drink machines" are imposing enough, but fortunately they don't talk to you. They have cameras that use facial-recognition algorithms to match customers' faces to a database of people types.

When you stand in front of the machine, it takes a second to process your image. It will then recommend some of the roughly 35 drinks displayed on its large touch-screen panel by showing little cartoonish speech bubbles next to them…

At one machine on the main concourse of Shinagawa, I saw a Japanese businessman being offered Coke as a suggested beverage, while a Japanese woman was offered a water-like vitamin drink.

The full story is here and for the pointer I thank Steve Silberman.


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