New generation of vending machines coming

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Vending machines aren’t just for snacks and soda anymore. The next generation of self-serve kiosks will fix you a truly gourmet coffee for a buck or buy your used electronics on the spot!

The Coinstar people have been working on variety of new ventures that will change vending machines as we know them. One is a venture with Seattle’s Best, a sub-brand of Starbucks, to create a kiosk that’s like a robotic barista. You get a high-end coffee at what’s expected to be a price point of $1. The New York Times reports that Coinstar is aiming to have 500 of these units rolled out by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Coinstar is also testing Gizmo kiosks in Texas and California that will sell refurbished iPads, video game consoles and more. The price point is designed to be half of what the retail price would have been on a new piece of electronics. The idea of creating a sales channel to do this is exciting, no matter what you think about refurbs.

On the flip side, Coinstar is also testing a kiosk called ecoATM that uses artificial intelligence and extreme digital photography to determine a value for any electronics gadgets you want to sell to the machine!

I have no idea if any of these ideas are going to make it, but they’re all intriguing.

Years ago, I made fun of myself using an automated convenience store vending machine in Switzerland that I was too dumb to figure out. I had been trying to buy two-liter bottle of Coke Light (the European version of Diet Coke) and instead I got a big bottle of sunflower oil from the machine!

That was total operator error, of course. The worst part of all was that the instructions were in English and I still couldn’t do it!



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