In anticipation of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the large amount of tourists it will undoubtedly bring, Japan is in the midst of a number of innovative projects designed to assist foreigners, according to Rocket News 24. One project in particular that has caught the public eye is an interactive vending machine that employs voice recognition technology to provide customers with detailed information on their beverage choices.
The vending machine is a joint venture between leading beverage manufacturer Asahi Group Holdings and Nomura Research Institute, the largest Japanese consulting firm. A trial machine will be set up near a popular tourist site, near Senso-ji’s famous Kaminarimon in Asakusa. It will be at this location from January 6 through the end of the month.
In analyzing consumer data from foreign consumers, Asahi Group Holdings found that tourists are less inclined to buy unfamiliar beverages, which inspired the idea for this vending machine. These new vending machines will provide information on sugar content, calories, and carbonation of beverages, and will make recommendations based on a drink’s popularity in Japan and the current season.
To use the machine, customers speak into a tablet and follow the machine’s vocal cues and options listed on the screen to make their drink selection. According to Rocket News 24, the new vending machines will only be offered in English and there are no current plans to incorporate other languages. The trial machine serves to collect and analyze user data and address user needs before developing the final machines.