28 September, 2012

Japan and technology

Wi-Fi Vending Machines

There is no denying that Japan is light years ahead of the West when it comes to vending machines.

One of the most recent innovations is facial recognition vending machines. When the new vending machine scans the facial features of an approaching customer, it then displays a tempting advertisement deemed appropriate.

Asahi Soft Drinks plans to set up thousands of new vending machines that dispense standard drinks and also works as a free Wi-Fi hotspot, sending Wi-Fi signals out in a 50 m-radius.

Wi-Fi hotspots are becoming more prevalent in Japan with the rising popularity of smart phones and Internet tablets. These new vending machines will offer Internet access that will be will be free and accessible to anyone without the need for a pass code or a payment. Buying a drink from the machine will not be necessary to access the network.

As of 2012, Asahi hopes to set up 10,000 of the new vending machines throughoutJapan.

Additionally, the machines could be useful for tourism and shopping. As a user logs on to the free Wi-Fi they are taken to the homepages of local shops and nearby sightseeing destinations.


Soft drinks

Vending machines that know what you want to drink before you do, is in fashion! These touch-screen machines use facial recognition algorithms to match consumers’ faces with a database of different facial types – while taking into account the weather – before perhaps suggesting vitamin water for health-conscious women or a hot coffee for office workers.


Thousands of cigarette machines in Japan use technology that determines the age of the buyer, not allowing the under 20s to buy cigarettes. The vending machines use sensory technology that is able to detect the age of the buyer based on the quality of their skin, wrinkles and bone structure with a claimed success rate of 90 per cent.

Cell phone scans

Today, users habitually scan their cell phone over the small black-and-white square of pixels found in the corner of ads, billboard or magazine pages and receive information directly on their cell phones such as menus, maps, discounts, and cinema times.


Holographic technology, which recreates virtual 3-D reality, is currently in the pipelines, with Japanese scientists saying it could become a reality by 2016.

Source: Hanna Steward-Smith 2011-12-08 via Japan Mission 

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