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Pepsi testing social vending machines

PepsiCo is introducing a “social vending” machine that lets users buy each other drinks remotely, further proof that its decades-old rivalry with Coca-Cola Co is going ever-more high tech and taking social networking to an unlikely place.

At a recent trade show in Chicago, PepsiCo rolled out a prototype interactive soda machine that lets you send a drink as a gift to a friend or a random stranger.

“Our vision is to use innovative technology to empower consumers and create new ways for them to engage with our brands, their social networks and each other at the point of purchase,” says Mikel Durham, PepsiCo Foodservice’s chief innovation officer.

“Social Vending extends our consumers’ social networks beyond the confines of their own devices and transforms a static, transaction-oriented experience into something fun and exciting they’ll want to return to, again and again.”

The machine allows you to buy a drink for yourself, but also to send one to someone else by entering their name, mobile phone number and a text message. The machine can also record a short video message.

The recipient gets a code to redeem the gift at another Pepsi social vending machine, with a way to send a thank you or to forward the gift to someone else.

The machine also allows what Pepsi calls “random acts of refreshment”, the ability to send a drink code “as symbol of encouragement (to) someone in a city that has experienced challenging weather or a congratulatory beverage to a student at a university that just won a championship.”

Of course, the whole concept is dependent on a large installed base of these machines everywhere.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle