Engineers at Coke have adapted the companies’ touchscreen dispensers to operate via QR codes and an app
Spotted: The coronavirus pandemic has upended the way in which companies do businesses and in some surprising ways. For example, people have a newfound suspicion of vending machines, due to the fact that their surfaces are touched by many hands. Coca-Cola has found a way around this.
The system works in Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, which can deliver 200 drink options from a single machine, using a touchscreen. The machines have been on the market since 2009, and use “micro-dosing” technology to allow individual users and restaurants to customise their drinks. Updated machines were introduced in 2018, which allow users to choose their drinks through an app.
The contactless option allows users to hold their camera up to the display to auto-scan a QR code which connects them to a user interface on your phone. The users can then select from the full menu of brands and flavours. One unique aspect of the new system is that it does not require users to download an app first to their phone, as it works via the cloud. A team working remotely developed the code in just one week, building off the machine’s existing software.
According to Michael Connor, chief architect of Coca-Cola Freestyle, “We intentionally designed this so anyone with a smart device could pour a drink. When you have a tray or a sandwich in one hand, you don’t want to deal with downloading an app. We took steps to make the solution super-easy, super-fast and super-reliable.” The team is also developing a contactless optical dispensing solution for older-style fountain dispensers. These will use sensor-enabled levers to detect the presence of a cup under the nozzle and pour the drink.
It’s not often that we see innovations in soda, but this is not the first time we have seen automation used in food or drink delivery. Previous innovations have included a robotic bar that lets users create their own drink recipes and an autonomous pizza chain run by robots.
Written By: Lisa Magloff