Designer Guus Baggermans was quite annoyed by the clumsy impoliteness of current vending machines, that typically require you to enter some abstract number to select your drink or candy, which is then rudely dumped in the bin at the bottom of the machine – forcing you to bend down to get your treat. He decided to design something better.
For his master graduating project at TU/e Industrial Design he created a vending machine that should interact with the customer on a more 'human' level. Inspired by his colleagues Chris Heger and Sjef Fransen, who during a workshop created a hilarious scenario on future food that would fight for the customers attention (crappy video alert), Guus arrived at his concept of a 'Friendly Vending Machine'.
As you walk by the machine, the cans will follow you and try to get your attention. The user can interact without using any buttons, or browsing menus. Once you decided which drink to buy you slide a coin in the machine after which the tube ingeniously slides opens – It is almost like a ballet – allowing you to grab your treat. The machine is adjusted to recognize a potential customer at a distance of six meters.
Baggermans believes there is still a lot of work to be done in making devices more customer friendly, although he also realizes there is also a very thin line between making them friendly and wrongly persuasive or obtrusive.
More info on the concept & implementation at the 'Friendly Vending blog'.