The new Coke Freestyle soda fountain + other bad ass Coke machines

Sodapalooza

Coca-Cola has started test marketing a new soda fountain called the Coca-Cola Freestyle.

Coke Freestyle machinesCoke Freestyle logo

It is run by computer and controlled through an LCD touchscreen.  The soda dispenser has the ability to mix up over 100 different types of sodas, waters, teas and energy drinks.  The menu even includes items not currently sold in the US like Grape Vault (yes, please!) and Raspberry Coke.  As of right now the Freestyle is only being test marketed in Atlanta and Southern California (list of locations here) but further test markets will be opened up in the Spring of 2010.  Don’t worry, that sound you hear behind you is a chorus of angels in the background singing “Ha-lle-lu-yah!”  Now, whenever I approach the soda fountain at Subway, I’ll immediately have brain shutdown due to the ridiculous amount of soda choices at my finger tips.

There have been rumors about this very thing for years. Coke and Pepsi have so many flavor variations around the world and the US really only sees a SMALL portion. Grape Vault? Are you kidding me? I really want to try that.  I’ve heard of Raspberry Coke in New Zealand, but it doesn’t sound THAT appetizing.  How about the discontinued Coke with Lemon?  It’s all up for grabs with this new machine.  However, don’t expect things like New Coke and Surge to be available, because this isn’t a time machine, it’s a soda machine.

Check out a video demonstration of this glorious machine here.

Now that the technology is here to let the dispensing machines do all the work for us, how long is it before we get into a SkyNet situation? I mean, are we just a lightning strike away from one of these machines going Johnny Number 5 on us? Will this be fun Johnny Number 5, or laser weapon fry your ass like a Roman Candle Number 5? How long before we see this:

Robot Coke Machine

Run tiny, Japanese children!! Run like the wind from the giant Coke branded inhuman monstrosity!!!! Save yourself!!!  It feeds on CHILDREN!!!  CHILDREN!!!!

Speaking of bad ass Coke dispensing Terminator machines, people have been hacking vending machines for years to make them better. One of the more popular things to do to a Coke machine is to connect it to the internet. Connecting your Coke machine to the internet allows you to check inventory levels and dispense sodas remotely from your computer. While this is quite awesome, it also calls onto the carpet not only your laziness, but the fact that you can’t even wait 30 seconds to put money in the machine and make a soda selection.  No surprisingly, this trend was started by Computer Science students.

One of the first and most popular of the online Coke vending machines is the remote controlled vending machine at Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU). This machine even made PC Magazine’s Top 10 Greatest Hacks of All Time. The machine began as an idea by a few students in the early ’90s who had to walk several floors to the soda machine. They felt there had to be a way to put the machine’s load status on their school’s network so they could avoid wasting trips to an empty machine. After building hardware and a software interface they attached the device to the innards of the machine.  Once online, the team was able to query the machine using Unix to find out where exactly the coldest bottle of soda was, what the inventory in each bottle column was and what the purchasing statistics and history of all the bottles was. Anyone with access to the school’s computer network could query the machine to find out the info.  Since the soda interface was Unix based, it was command line driven and provided no graphical tools.

RIT coke machine
Several years later, students in the Computer Science House at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) hooked up their own Coke machine and used a graphical user interface (GUI) instead of the earlier Unix interface.  The GUI for this machine was much more user friendly than the earlier CMU incarnation.  This version also got a mention in the PC Mag 10 Greatest Hacks.

Today there are tons of online vending machines.  Here is a list of remote controlled vending machines. As you can see, they are everywhere now.

cokeputer1
As a matter of fact, here’s a random dude that put his personal Coke machine, dubed “Coke-puter”, on the web — Click here for the “Coke-puter”. You can see the history of purchases as well as inventory (he has not only Coke but Guiness and Cheerwine in the machine).

Eventually, I wonder if all Coke machines will be attached to a national network so people can query them to see if their particular soda is empty or not.

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17 Responses to “The new Coke Freestyle soda fountain + other bad ass Coke machines”

  1. Wow this is pretty cool! To have the ability to make unique drink on a portable location without a human is amazing marketing techniques! I think the end consumer will love this! I’m assuming this will be in test marketing for some time to come seeing there potentially could be a high amount of bugs in the system. None the less it looks really cool!

  2. That is a very bad ass coke machine :) Oh my gosh, I loved Johnny Number 5! lol Number 5 is alive!!!

  3. has anyone tried the limited edition coke orange from the UK and also tried the orange coke from the freestyle coke machines in the U.S.A? if yes please tell me if the coke orange from the U.S.A freestyle machines tasted the same as the limited edition uk coke orange, do the freestyle machines make the same orange coke as the uk did. please reply!!!

  4. What you can’t see about the coke-puter is that it sends me a sms when any stack gets low, and at one point sent emails directly to the local coke distributor whenever we ran low on their products (it wouldn’t let them know when we were low on beer or jolt).

    Thanks for enjoying my cokeputer site!

    –Jason McEachen

  5. Holy crap, that’s pretty awesome, Jason. Thanks for sharing! And yes, I do love the Coke-puter site!

  6. I, for one, welcome our new soft drink-dispensing overlords. Enslavement will have never been so refreshing.

    That said, I can’t wait to try one of these for myself. Especially since McDonald’s Canada took out the orange drink in favor of Coke Zero. :P And there is NO other HiC available around here.

    I’ve contacted them about this, but clearly it has not been enough. The HiC orange uprising must commence!

    …incidentally, I’d love to see Freestyles here, particularly if it means having the choice of Coke, Mello Yello (also not found here), and HiC in one place.

    …think the Freestyle has some equivalent of Ecto Cooler in there?

  7. all lies, most of the best cokes came from asia like Korea.
    when large coporations buy them out it becomes western?
    know the truth.please

  8. ok, i work for the company that makes these coke freestyles. and they have them in the U.S currently in use and more to come they r very cool and with 125 combination how can u go wrong

  9. I tried one of the machines today and frankly hated it. It’s hard to hold the cup in the little space, make your selection and get everything in, At one point the peice of plastic by the ice dispencer fell out in to my drink.
    It’s great that it has over a hunderd possible drinks, but if you know what you want, as most of us already do, that’s 99 things to navigate through to get to what you want, Does life really nead to be this complicated?

    • I agree. I just want to get my drink and sit down. The place I saw one had three people standing there looking confused trying to figure out how it worked.

      I did it easily enough, but it creates a mess out of something that should be easy.

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