The new Coke Freestyle soda fountain + other bad ass Coke machines
Coca-Cola has started test marketing a new soda fountain called the Coca-Cola Freestyle.
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:
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.
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.
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.