Have a hard time deciding what to drink at your favorite fast food place? Coca-Cola is going to make it even harder for you with the new “Freestyle” device.
Forgoing the usual 6 choices, the new Coca-Cola Freestyle will be able to dispense 100 different drinks. Add a touchscreen user interface, and you’ve got a very attractive package.
“It’s like the iPod of drink machines,” said Gene Farrell, vice president of the Jet Innovation Program for Coca-Cola North America. “We’re essentially reinventing the dispensed beverage business.”[In 2009] Americans are expected to buy nearly $121 billion of soft drinks…. With serious profits at stake, development of the new dispensers, which took four years and cost more than $100 million, was a closely guarded secret.
…To create the stylized refrigerator-sized machine, Coca-Cola partnered with DEKA Research and Development, whose founder, Dean Kamen, invented the Segway and several medical devices.
One of the hurdles for designers was trying to create a high-tech device that was fun and easy to use without reminding people of an “ATM or a computer,” said Vince Voron, senior director of industrial design at Coca-Cola who was recruited from Apple to work on the project.
All this added technology isn’t with out it’s Big Brother worries. When discussing the old system vs. the new:
While the older-style drink machines use 5-gallon bags of syrup that are then mixed with water and carbonation, the new machines use concentrated flavor cartridges a little larger than a video cassette tape.
Each night, the machines will transmit detailed data to Coca-Cola on what brands sold and at what time of the day. Already, they’ve discovered that the popularity of Caffeine-Free Diet Coke spikes after 3 p.m., Farrell said.
It is comforting knowing that Coca-Cola doesn’t know what specific users are drinking, but it still seems to be a little creepy. On the other hand, I think I can get over that if I have 100 different drink options….oh the possibilities!
Via Core 77