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Shop Till It Drops

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the all-in-wonder dept.

Technology 494

Ando Japando writes "There's an article on NYTimes.com about a new vending machine in the US. Unlike the typical machine, this one is 18 ft wide and takes up 200 square ft. Of course, the convenience stores are not sure if this machine is a boon or a boo, but many people like it because it doesn't take up a lot of space. It'd be really cool to see these all over the place. Others complain about the lack of human interaction and perceive it as dehumanizing. That may be true, but at least it's not a live bait vending machine."

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494 comments

you always forget! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4155879)

Free registration required!!

You always forget! (-1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155948)

CUP THE BALLS!

Re:you always forget! (3, Informative)

pacc (163090) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156018)

Or just make up your password on the fly http://www.majcher.com/nytview.html

Re:you always forget! (0)

macksav (602217) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156072)

balls off for a non-fp! fp!. i think it's time for a bit of mechanical buggery on your part, fellow. so bend over, grab your ankles and wait for the /. troll fully operational blowtorch up the ol' asshole.

This may be new in the USA (5, Informative)

overshoot (39700) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155892)

but something very much like it is quite common in Japan. The last time I was there, there was a beast of a machine that sold everything from fast food to condoms in the lobby.

Re:This may be new in the USA (0)

rczyzewski (585306) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155994)

We already have something similar to these in the US. They are called 7-11's and gas station quik marts (insert brand name here) and are run by nice people for low pay. I'd rather give someone a job than enter in EK4L5 for my Snickers bar and shaving cream.

Re:This may be new in the USA (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4156029)

i'd rather support new technology than give more fucking immigrants an excuse to bring their 20 kid families in the country and increase demand for low income housing.

Re:This may be new in the USA (3, Interesting)

Lovejoy (200794) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156048)

Yes, I have seen all this stuff in Japanese vending machines (from most common to least):
Soft drinks (of course) sometimes with 1.5 liter bottles
beer & sake
cigarettes (EVERYWHERE)
porn
gum
pantyhose
ties
umbrellas (in train stations)
rice
eggs (in a vending machine that just sold eggs)
rice-polishing (In the country - Put in your money and it polishes your brown rice into white rice)

And there's a lot more. [sonic.net] But I have never seen a snack vending machine that just sold candy bars, chips, etc... Weird.

Also, in Japan - you can be driving in the country, with very little to see, come around the corner, and there is a vending machine, standing by itself with nothing around. It's an odd and amusing experience.

As for huge vending machines, I saw one like this in the Geneva train station. Had everything.

Re:This may be new in the USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4156067)

> As for huge vending machines, I saw one like this in the Geneva train station. Had everything.

I'm headed there right now. Need anything?

Re:This may be new in the USA (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156084)

I've seen (and used) the Geneva one too; it's several times larger than the one depicted in the article. And in Geneva it was a godsend, as hardly any stores were open at night. /Janne

It Runs Linux? (-1)

l33t j03 (222209) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155893)

If it does, it should support about 1.5 shoppers before it drops, much like Linux based web sites.

Yeah, like 7-11 is known for its helpful employees (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4155898)

I want my Big Gulp and my hot dog with onions with as little (sub)human interaction as possible. They should just retrofit existing convenience stores with androids that know how to make change and get more Coors Light suitcases out of the back and point out the aisle with the barbecue chips.

i like this... (5, Funny)

edrugtrader (442064) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155899)

i buy stuff on the internet all the time. if it doesn't come or arrives broken, i am basically screwed and have to deal with RMAs and trying to get my money back.

if everything came out of a machine, if my merchandise doesn't come or arrives broken, i can kick the shit out of the machine. MUCH BETTER.

Re:i like this... (-1)

l33t j03 (222209) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155955)

You couldn't kick the shit out of a bubble gum machine, what makes you think you can take this one?

Re:i like this... (2, Funny)

the way, what're you (591901) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155986)

Sure, kicking the shit out of a machine that size is all fun and games, until it falls on you [cokemachineaccidents.com] .

Re:i like this... (2)

Surak (18578) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156039)

You can kick the shit out of the machine when you buy stuff online too...no guarantee it'll still work though. :)

[offtopic] RIAA Website gets hacked (-1, Offtopic)

RedWolves2 (84305) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155901)

Since this story keeps getting rejected when I submit it I'll post it here (no disrespect to the posted story).

RIAA [riaa.org] web site was hacked this morning. It looks as though they have noticed the hack and have since pulled the server from the internet. I did manage to find a screenshot [extremecon...ntball.com] before it went down.

Re:[offtopic] RIAA Website gets hacked (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4155947)

Hey i submitted that too!

Re:[offtopic] RIAA Website gets hacked (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4155961)

yeah I know it will show up on the front page like four days from now.

Re:[offtopic] RIAA Website gets hacked (-1, Offtopic)

joshsisk (161347) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155959)

So? Why is this news?

Web sites get hacked all the time.

Re:[offtopic] RIAA Website gets hacked (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4156009)

Because it is "stuff that matters"

Re:[offtopic] RIAA Website gets hacked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4156019)

Someone probably beat you to it, and its in the queue to be published later today. Chill out.

Re:[offtopic] RIAA Website gets hacked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4156049)

that is the problem with this site is that by the time they post news it is "old" news.

boon or boo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4155904)

...not sure if this machine is a boon or a boo"

A boon or a boo? WTF? Stop trying to be so clever with these idiotic catchphrases that sound extremely gay.

Re:boon or boo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4156024)

Er, as a practicing homosexual, I should point out that "sounds extremely gay" is actually a compliment. ;-) ;-) ;-) Perhaps you intended to say something along the lines of "sounds pretty stupid?" At any rate, you should be aware that any and all attempts to hijack the word "gay" and make it synonymous with the word "bad" are going to fail. Sorry, sweetie. ;-)

practicing homosexual? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4156083)

i didnt know you had to practice that sort of thing. same as doctors.. dont 'practice' just be good at it. j/k love you guys (girls)

Re:boon or boo? (1)

pommiekiwifruit (570416) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156088)

...as a practicing[sic] homosexual,...

You mean you still haven't figured out what to do yet? It's easy!

First they came for the Indians... (2, Insightful)

sllort (442574) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155906)

Removing human interaction is the trend, and it's going to keep happening. Two national chains that I know of off the top of my head : Sheetz & Wawa have both removed human interaction from the ordering process for food - you interact with a touch screen, and the order is printed for the human to process. For now - phase 1 - the human is still visible, and exists.
Look at grocery checkout lines - I'm sure you've all seen the image recognition lines that photograph and weigh your items and let you check them out yourselves.

I'm pretty sure we're going to tell our kids about the days you had to talk to people to buy things at the store.

I was in Sheetz once, and a man walked in and tried to order a sandwich. He was pressing buttons for quite some time and growing visibly more distressed, until after a while he looked over the counter and said "Can't I just talk to somebody?".
It became apparent to me after some reflection that the gentleman was illiterate.

All I know is, if that thing fails to drop my diapers, tipping it is going to be a bitch.

Hey, I worked at a Sheetz... (1)

kilonad (157396) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156010)

I worked at a Sheetz for almost two years (it was decent money). I had to work both the register and in MTO (made to order, the food part). Most people actually love the machines, especially if they have kids. It talks to you (which gets old real quick if you have to work there) and you can punch in for a special order if you need to talk to someone. Or you can always shout. But there's pictures on all of the icons too, so the man you're talking about probably wasn't just illiterate, but possibly half-blind and lonely as well. The only problem is the machines have touch screens that eventually wear out, and it can be difficult to push the buttons once that happens. The flat screens have a slot for a credit card on the side, and are the same exact machines you see the employees using at the register (room for future expansion maybe?).

Essentially, it's the equivalent of removing waiters from restaurants. You can automate order taking, but you'll never replace the chef.

Re:First they came for the Indians... (4, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156017)

Automats have been around for a hundred years. The fact they never caught on must demonstrate that shoppers prefer the human touch. That doesn't mean vending machines and their ilk don't have a place, but that any store that thinks it can do away with humans will soon find itself filing for bankruptcy.

live bait slashdotting (5, Funny)

Ando[evilmedic] (199537) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155907)

I'm just guessing, but that's probably the first time we've slashdotted a site pertaining to 'live bait.' That link was absolutely and totally random...

You might be a Redneck Geek if... (5, Funny)

Nick Driver (238034) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155988)

...you've ever slashdotted yer live bait website ;-)

LOL!

Blah, blah, blah... (-1)

Trolligula (527461) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155908)

Shop Till Eggs, Diapers, Toothpaste Drop By JOHN TIERNEY ASHINGTON, Aug. 27 -- It looks like a 7-Eleven in a box. Early this morning, as the restaurants and clubs were shutting down in the Adams Morgan neighborhood here, a young waiter named Rick Roman joined a crowd gawking at the new attraction on the sidewalk: an 18-foot-wide vending machine. Mr. Roman looked through the glass at the dozens of products -- bottles of olive oil and milk, cartons of eggs, chicken sandwiches, paper towels, detergent, diapers, pantyhose, toothpaste, condoms, DVD's -- and realized what he absolutely had to take home at 12:15 a.m. After he inserted a $10 bill and punched numbers on a screen, the crowd watched a metal bin rise to collect a package of razor blades from one shelf and a can of shaving cream from another. Advertisement One bystander muttered about "dehumanizing technology," but most oohed approvingly as the bin swung back to deposit the razors and cream in front of Mr. Roman. The machine even provided a plastic bag. "It's pretty cool," Mr. Roman said. "Whoever made this is a genius. A guy in the store can make a mistake or give you a hard time, but not the machine. I definitely prefer the machine to a person." This machine, the Shop 2000, is the only one operating in America. Some locals call it an eyesore, but others are happily posing for photos in front of it, and in its second week of operation, more than a few people are feeding it their cash and credit cards. If the test in Washington goes well, its manufacturer predicts a new era in convenience for Americans, as do rivals working on similar machines. These kiosks, known as automated convenience stores (a better name might be RoboShop), are similar to multipurpose vending machines already operating in Japan and some cities in the Netherlands, Belgium and other European countries where labor is expensive and real estate is scarce. Those constraints are now being felt by American retailers. A study by the National Association of Convenience Stores suggests that a shortage of labor will be one of the industry's biggest problems in coming years. "With this machine, you eliminate most of your labor costs as well as problems with theft," said Hettie Herzog, president of the machine's manufacturer, Automated Distribution Technologies of Exton, Pa. "Plus it goes into a small space. A typical convenience store takes up 2,500 square feet, but for this you need only 200. It's perfect for places that get a lot of foot traffic -- busy sidewalks, dormitories, train stations, office buildings." Ms. Herzog, who got the idea for her machine from one in Belgium selling groceries, tested it last year at a gas station in York, Pa. Drivers there did not provide enough business, but there were better results at a test at a parking lot near Howard University here this year, and she predicted strong sales from pedestrians now walking past the machine at the edge of a parking lot at a corner of 18th and California Streets in the city's northwest section. The prices at the machine -- $1 for a can of soup, $2 for a half-gallon of milk, $4 for a box of Cheerios -- are in line with those at nearby convenience stores, although the selection is limited. Ms. Herzog said her machine can stock about 200 products, less than a tenth of what is found in a typical convenience store. "You can track sales remotely by dialing the machine's computer to find out exactly what's left of each item," she said. "If the machine stops or has a problem, it will call your pager and e-mail you." This machine is being greeted cautiously by operators of traditional vending machines, as is a drive-through automated store under development by another company. "Automated C-Store: Vending's Partner or Competitor?" was the headline of a recent article in the trade journal Automatic Merchandiser. Industry veterans note that there have been unsuccessful efforts to move beyond the "four C's" -- candy, coffee, cold drinks, cigarettes. The Keedoozle, a self-service grocery store using a conveyor belt, failed in the 1930's. A more successful predecessor, the Horn & Hardart Automat offering hot food, was supplanted by fast-food franchises. "One reason full-line vending machines have not swept the United States to date is that we have had a large population of entrepreneurial immigrants eager to operate convenience stores," said Timothy Sanford, editor of the trade journal Vending Times. "But it's getting very hard to find capable sales staff, and it doesn't make sense for them to spend valuable time selling simple items that don't require their expertise." RoboShops have advantages, he said. "You don't need bathroom space for employees and aisles for customers. You don't need to worry about someone pulling a gun on a clerk. The public needs to get used to these kinds of stores, but I think it's inevitable that they will. People are already accustomed to automatic teller machines and self-service gas pumps. When they know what they want, they want to get it without waiting in line and worrying about whether the clerk's had a bad day." Those attitudes were evident in a survey by the National Association of Convenience Stores. When asked which factors affected their decision to shop in a convenience store, people ranked "friendly, helpful service" well below "convenient location" and "fast in and out of store." Way down the list, in 13th place, was "pleasant store ambience." Still, some people watching the machine defended stores with clerks. "I'm concerned about the people this is going to put out of work," said David Bottoroff, an editor. "It's shockingly inhumane, and it's also an eyesore. I'd much rather see a storefront here than this ugly box." Other late-night machine-watchers shared his feelings and complained about lazy Americans' obsession with convenience, but the critics seemed to be few. "Awesome" was the typical review. "Like something from the future!" shouted the leader of a group heading home from a bar. Even Mr. Bottoroff paid the machine a compliment. He did not approve of it, he said, but since there were no competing stores open on the block at this hour, there might come a night when he buys a DVD or popcorn or something. "I have to admit it's convenient," he said.

Interesting I'm sure (1)

3.5 stripes (578410) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155910)

But the riaa.org hack is a LOT funnier, pity they've already figured it out.

Re:Interesting I'm sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4156062)

do you have a mirror? When i heard about it, the hack was already down.

Dehumanizing? (5, Funny)

plurrbat (589706) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155914)

I don't find it dehumanizing. I find it GREAT! Now I can buy the 75 pack of enemas and the forbidden magazines without that weird guy behind the counter looking at me like I'm a freak.

Re:Dehumanizing? (1)

derch (184205) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155956)

Wish I had mod points to give away. Pretty amusing post.

Re: 75 enemas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4155968)

now thats even more dehumanizing.
freak.

Liver please (2, Funny)

Kristoffor (562485) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155924)

on the horizon... I hear they are planning a vending machine for body parts to be installed in large hospitals. Just insert your credit card and punch buttons to receive a lovely, hardly used replacement liver!

Re:Liver please (2)

karnal (22275) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156035)

Then, of course, you'll have a different machine, right across from it, selling body parts cheaper, with the following disclaimer:

These appear to be functional, but are untested by this hospital. No returns.

(my stab at some sellers on ebay....)

Great dor travellers (1)

MyGirlFriendsBroken (599031) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155925)

Sounds like this would be great in airports and other locations where there are lots of people of different cultures and languages, and often in a bit of culture shock. I love to find this machine when I have just landed in a country where I know little of the language and am too tiered to communicate using body language.

Re:Great dor travellers (0)

plurrbat (589706) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155936)

And of course, it'll give you the finger, the international hand gesture for "Declined Card".

exp. dates (3, Interesting)

kin_korn_karn (466864) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155928)

what happens if products that expire, like eggs and milk, don't get "changed out" in time? What recourse do you have?

Re:exp. dates (2)

suwain_2 (260792) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156036)

This has happened to me before... I just ate 'em anyway (it was candy, so it didn't seem too bad... Not sure I'd want to drink month-old milk or anything, though).

I'd like to think that you could call the machine operator and ask for a refund/exchange (particularly if you haven't opened it). I suppose some might refuse, but threatening to call the Better Business Bureau and the FDA to report that they're selling out-of-date food might change their mind ;)

Re:exp. dates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4156051)

for recourse options, see above [slashdot.org]

MMMMM 5 month old cheese sandwiches (1)

soapvox (573037) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155929)

Now instead of only 2 month old sandwiches at the 7-11 they will be 5 months old... tasty. Actually I am torn, I like going do to my local magazine shop to find Macworld and Linux today, but a vending machine would be the logical place to buy them, AHHHH decisions, plus think about it this way one less prying eye when you buy your p)rn!

I like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4155940)

Hopefully this will contain a lot of things that you would normally have to purchase at a department store. Call the machine "dehumanizing" if you want, but I'm not convinced that that is necessarily a bad thing! Have you interacted with some of these "sales associates" at Target, Abercrombie, etc. lately? It used to be that stores would hire people who at least looked presentable and were concerned about general hygiene and that sort of thing. No longer. Perhaps I'm used to the crowd at Slashdot and associating with a better class of people. Perhaps the soap truck no longer visits the trailer court. Whatever the reason, I've grown sick of it.

At any rate, if I want to buy (for example) a new hair dryer, I would much prefer getting it from a machine like this than I would from rubbing elbows with these common mongrels. I, like the vast majority of Slashdot's readership, am better than these people, and there is no reason in our advanced society why I should be forced to do business with them.

Still doesn't solve -all- problems (2, Insightful)

tibbetts (7769) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155941)

After he inserted a $10 bill and punched numbers on a screen, the crowd watched a metal bin rise to collect a package of razor blades from one shelf and a can of shaving cream from another.

I'm not sure whether this would make it more or less embarassing to buy that rose and box of condoms on a Friday night...

This is Kicks Ass (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4155943)

This machine is right down the street from and I have to say it is really cool. There are no 24 hour stores on that street or really anywhere within 5 blocks of there. It's also right in the middle of a bar neighborhood, so it'll help out with people and there late night afterbar munchies. I really just hope no one goes and starts vandalizing it

neato (2, Interesting)

Fanolex (49666) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155944)

before i even checked out the article i was going to say that i'd seen one of these in adams morgan a block from the bfs' - i hadn't realized it was the only one in the US.

i haven't actually had the nerve to go up and use it yet, but it's a great idea considering there aren't any 24-hour convenience stores in the immediate vicinity.

Porn vending machines (5, Funny)

DrXym (126579) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155954)

I saw a program about Japan which featured a porn vending machine which was out on the street. Aside from the usual magazines and condoms, you could also buy a sex cup - a paper cup containing spongy jelly that you had intercourse with. Will the wonders of technology ever cease?

Re:Porn vending machines (2, Funny)

HiQ (159108) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156000)

a paper cup containing spongy jelly that you had intercourse with

*I* most certainly did not have intercouse with a spongy thingy. And by the way, what kind of freak would it take to sell some spongy stuff *I* had intercourse with? Or even worse, what kind of ueber freak would buy the spongy stuff that I had intercourse with. Aaaah. The horror (** sound of hair being torn out of head**)

Re:Porn vending machines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4156020)

You should change your nickname to Tweak.

Re:Porn vending machines (5, Funny)

theDEFT (254259) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156028)

speaking for the entire community, can you tell me a little more about the sex cup please.

Re:Porn vending machines (2)

RobinH (124750) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156050)

A friend of mine did a work term in Japan, and he told lots of interesting stories. Some of those vending machines dispense "School Girls' panties". You get the used panties, and a little story about the girl they belonged to.

There were also places to stay in Tokyo called "capsule hotels", for men only, like little stacked coffins you could sleep in, and it cost nearly $100 a night. He said each one had a little television in it, and the only stations you could get were porn!

Anyone have any first hand evidence?

Re:Porn vending machines (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156081)

wow.. coffin hotels, just like straight from neuromancer or other gibsons books ! seriously tho, a LOT of f*cked *p sh*t is going on there.

Nifty! But Not quite there yet.. (2)

gerf (532474) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155960)

Imagine a grandma accidentially punching in the number for condoms, instead of her skin cream. No returns... very bad for customer relations.

I imagine they can save a couple bucks an hour on labor, but at what cost? You lose some business because it can't service you to all your whims. if something you buy is obviously defective, oh well. buy another one. That doesn't cut it with Real People. And how much does one of these cost? If it's, say, $200k (i'm guessing, wildly), plus service when it breaks down, plus electricity costs, plus someone who stocks the machine, is it really worth it to save the 50 thousand or so a year (365 days, 6 an hour, 24 hours a day)? Small regualr candybar/chip/pop machines cost up to 10 thousand up front, are produced by the masses and are already very accepted by society.

I'm really not seeing this thing becoming the all-answer to our problems, though it may have a niche market.

What would you put in the vending machine? (0)

rczyzewski (585306) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155962)

I'd put Mt. Dew, Maxim, spare computer parts, twinkies, golf balls, and of course supplies for when...

RIAA site defaced (-1, Offtopic)

outz (448278) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155963)

http://www.riaa.org was defaced this morning.
Heres a list of mirrors:
http://minordamage.com/riaa_hack.jpg http://www.mrnick.binary9.net/riaa/ http://www.scriobh.com/riaa/ http://www.bourke.ca/notTheRIAA/
I heard the original is still up, but is under a heavy traffic load by http://www.fark.com
where the story was first broken.

Say goodbye to QuickieMart? (1)

joncarwash (600744) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155964)

Like others have said, vending machines have been huge in Japan for a while now. I doubt, though, that the US will go in the same direction since we have plenty of people that are willing to work in a store that sells the same items. Right now it appears as though the cost of operation is too high compared to your classical convenient store.
And you'll need someone to keep the vending machines stocked anyway, especially when there is a snowstorm coming and everyone rushes the store for bread and milk (anyone from the Southern US knows what I'm talking about). Also, will the vending machine have to be over 21 to sell alcohol?

Dehumanizing? (1)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155969)

Most interaction with convenience store clerks is sub-human anyway. "Six fifty" and "Thanks" are usually the only words spoken, even when spoken to.

If they came up with a vending machine that had decent SDRAM and video card prices, I'm there...

Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4155970)

If you`ve ever tried talking to the mongtard's who work in 7-11 (and..well, just about everywhere) you`ll understand why removing 'human' (barely!) interaction can only be a good thing. You`ll be served quicker, get the correct change and be otherwise unblemished by the common peasantry.

Hurray for Live Bait Machines (1)

SkipChaser (548969) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155971)

Keeps the bait out of the dairy case.

This reminds me of a book.... (2)

Xenopax (238094) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155972)

Did anyone ever read A Stainless Steal Rat is Born? It's been a long time since I read it, but in the book the main character spends a good bit of time in an automated fastfood restaurant hiding from the police. It was really easy for him to steal food there since it had a built in test button that served up sandwiches to the back room, and since there were no employees noone was there to stop him (except the restocking guy, who came once a week).

The restaurant itself was really cool, a person would put in their order, and the automated system would have everything cooked and ready to go before the customer even got their money out to pay. Much better than McDonalds, which in some places can be slower than a sit down restaurant because the employees are so slow.

Re:This reminds me of a book.... (2, Interesting)

chill (34294) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156064)

McSwineys, if I remember correctly.

You should see the McDonalds on International Drive in Orlando, FL. While it is HUGE -- one of the largest in the world, largest PlayPlace (tm) in the world, gameroom -- it is highly automated.

Robot arms handle the fries, from pulling them from the grease, also dumping and salting them.

I've often wondered why someone doesn't try the McSwiney's approach.

The Shop 2000 (2)

ziriyab (549710) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155974)

The machine's name is Shop 2000! I wonder how long it will take for the number 2000 to stop being associated with all things futuristic? 2010? 3000?

I wouldn't mind this (1)

SparkyTWP (556246) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155976)

Knowing some people who worked at convienence stores, I would rather get my food from a machine than go to a store with some teenage punk working there who pissed all over some food or something because he got bored at 2AM.

The things those people do to the food (Just because they're bored mind you) is beyond most people's imagination. I'll take the machine thank you.

Not to mention in the end this lowers prices. So there's another good reason.

is it cost effective (1)

hey (83763) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155978)

It sounds like there is something like a tape juke box [mdlcorp.com] system in there. They are hugely expensive to buy not to mention maintain. And this is verses paying somebody minimum wage. Also, of course, the RoboShop needs to be stocked by a human so why not have him/her tend store.

live bait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4155982)

Yeah you're cleaver but do you have an action shot of the live bait machine? I do.

In Hot Springs, Arkansas (yes, home to the Bubba goes to Washington movement) near a marina on Lake Ouchita (sp?) called Mountain Harbor, there is indeed one of these beauties (or there was 5 years ago) providing live bait for all...and yes I had to take a snapshot. It's quite a sight. I had more fun with that than the skiing. =)

Re:live bait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4155998)

BTW, in the post above I forgot to mention...I think we should start a "Bait Chalking" program similar to warchalking but online, so that people can post the location of these beauties. =)

Not a lot of space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4155983)

Unlike the typical machine, this one is 18 ft wide and takes up 200 square ft. [...] many people like it because it doesn't take up a lot of space.

Sorry, but 200 square feet seems like it takes up a lot more space than a "typical machine."

Space saving? (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155989)

It takes up 200 square ft. Instead of a 2500 square ft shop. But stocks only 10th of the products.

Doesn't seem much more dense to me..

It makes for great people watching (1)

MedManDC (536578) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155990)

This machine is about a half-block from my house. It's amazing to see the faces on people as the pass by the "store." Everyone is just itching to buy something, I think more to see all the machinery at work than because they need anything.

One of the benefits of its success around the US might be the reintroduction of dollar coins. I'm not sure how it gives change now, but I hope it doesn't drop up to $5 in quarters like our metro ticket vending machines.

This will be moded. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4155991)

Why do they keep posting nytimes articles? I don't need another username/password.

This guy will start hollering for a human soon... (3)

hyacinthus (225989) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155992)

"Whoever made this is a genius. A guy in the store can make a mistake or give you a hard time, but not the machine. I definitely prefer the machine to a person."

Just wait until this fellow puts in five dollars only to see it disappear without a trace, or until that packet of Pop-Tarts gets stuck halfway off its little rack and won't drop however much he kicks the machine. He'll start looking for someone to whine to about getting his money back.

Ah, well, I shouldn't complain. I work for a company which thinks that providing us with a couple of tables, a Coke machine and one of those automat machines which dispenses packaged Danish and five-dollar sandwiches satisfies their obligation to provide us with a cafeteria.

hyacinthus.

Re:This guy will start hollering for a human soon. (2)

sql*kitten (1359) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156032)

Just wait until this fellow puts in five dollars only to see it disappear without a trace, or until that packet of Pop-Tarts gets stuck halfway off its little rack and won't drop however much he kicks the machine. He'll start looking for someone to whine to about getting his money back.

If that were a problem, payphones would never have taken off, nor indeed any other sorts of vending machines. There's probably a label on the front giving a number to call if there are any real problems. Route this number to a depot and one maintenance man's territory is simply a function of how frequently the machine fails.

But can you ask it for directions? (2)

Etcetera (14711) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155993)


I have to agree with the critics on this one. This might be a good idea in a few select locations (high crime, etc...) but for the most part it's too dehumanizing for american culture.

Besides, of the "four C's" mentioned in the article (cigarettes, cold drinks, candy, and coffee) three of them already have dedicated vending machines, and the fourth did for a long time until they became illegal (at least in CA). There's still a place for convenience stores.

Even at 2:30am in the morning, when I stop in for a coffee and some sort of warm snack in the middle of a road trip, the small amount of human interaction I receive there is important.

Re:But can you ask it for directions? (2)

Lxy (80823) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156007)

and the fourth did for a long time until they became illegal

Coffee vending machines are illegal?

Dehumanizing? Sure! (1)

Hayzeus (596826) | more than 11 years ago | (#4155997)

.. but why not? Humans basically suck anyway...

Theft? (2)

suwain_2 (260792) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156002)

They seem to be making a big deal of how they're much less likely to be robbed -- you can shoplift, and you can't hold up a vending machine.

But what's to stop someone determined from throwing a cinder block through the glass panel? Maybe it's really strong Plexiglass or something, but I'm sure a really determined person can get right through it. It'd be very obvious that you were robbing it (people chucking cinder blocks through windows don't tend to go unnoticed...), but I think it would be definitely possible. I'd actually be more worried about theft from this than I would from a store.

Re:Theft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4156030)

Actually most theft occurs in the form of shoplifting. Some retail stores loose up to 40% of their stuff this way in any given inventory cycle. This is the real threat to profits because it is gradual and tough to combat while remaining customer friendly.

It's tough to shoplift from the vending but as far as hold ups probably about the same. Someone holding up a place is already doing something noticeable so they'd probably go ahead and chuck the brick.

Re:Theft? (2)

karnal (22275) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156079)

I'll admit you have a very good point -- if no one is around, how do you keep honest people honest?

Obviously, as in most situations with convenience stores, they make their best attempt (usually with $$ the deciding factor) to keep their product and employees safe. That doesn't mean it's always good, though. Someone can always steal something.

But back to what I originally wanted to say: What's to stop someone determined from throwing a cinder block through the convenience store worker's head?

B-2 (1, Funny)

fredopalus (601353) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156006)

Dell, no... Compaq, definitely not.... Gateway, there it is; B-2 [punches B-2 into vending machine]. [Metal coil uncoils and pc tower drops **clunk**] [open flap and pull out computer].
Now i just need a monitor.... C-7 ... [doesn't uncoil and gets stuck in machine] [now you start shaking it]... [monitor starts to fall]... **clunk** **crash**. Not another broken screen.

NYT login (3, Informative)

lute3 (72400) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156013)

I didn't see one posted yet, so here's the one I always use.

login: generic99
password: generic

Re:NYT login (1)

TulioSerpio (125657) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156078)

thanks!
I hate NYT registration!

ad infinitum (1)

HiQ (159108) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156026)

Will there also be a vending machine that sells vending machines?

Video renting vending machines (4, Interesting)

Kraft (253059) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156038)

I recently realised that in the states "video/dvd renting vending machines" aren't the big thing. I just don't understand why.

In Spain, France, Italy... most of Europe really... you find these cool little machines, about twice the size of a coke vending machine, where you can rent over 500 vhs or dvds any time of the day. Most of them don't require a membership card (which a f'ing annoying anyway), just a credit card. If you return the video within a few hours you pay much less. If you don't return it, they just charge your credit card. Simple and fair. No hazzle.

But yeah... why aren't these machines the bomb in the States, where vending machines are so normal? Any thoughts?

Re:Video renting vending machines (2)

CrosseyedPainless (27978) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156096)

I don't think vending machines are really very normal here in the U.S. I've never personally seen any kind of vending machine that accepts credit cards, and bill accepters only became common fairly recently.

*shrug*
This machine seems cool, though. I'd use it!

This guy doesn't use many vending machines... (1)

saider (177166) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156041)

"It's pretty cool," Mr. Roman said. "Whoever made this is a genius. A guy in the store can make a mistake or give you a hard time, but not the machine. I definitely prefer the machine to a person."

At least I can complain to the guy in the store. It is much better than calling some 800 number and waiting several weeks.

More pictures? (2)

bleckywelcky (518520) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156046)


Could anyone find any place with more pictures of it/it working? The article was quite limited in that area.

What!!?! Don't disrespect the Live Bait Machine! (1)

djansen (67143) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156054)

Dude, we have a live bait vending machine right outside the local sporting goods store...it's cool as hell. Once in a while my son and I go fishing....there's nothing cooler than picking up some donuts then stopping by the Bait Machine for a carton o' worms.

7x24 worms. I like.

This is nothing new (1)

EvlOvrLrd (559820) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156058)

I saw these thing pop up in major metropolitan areas in Germany over 10 years ago. Funny how the beer and wine shelves were always empty at 4am on a Saturday morning.

I am all for these actually. Everything is priced right. You don't have to repeat yourself to someone who's native language isn't your own.

I would love to see a supermarket setup like this. Just drive up after the order you submitted online is complete, insert your ID card and out comes your goods. Already bagged and good to go.

Dehumanizing? (2)

CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156059)

Dehumanizing is a good thing, here is the human experience: "Can I use your bathroom." noisclose "Sorry, I didn't hear you" no-is-close "I still can't understand what you are saying." IT'S LOCKED!!!!!!!! "Ahh. Okay, I get it now! Yeesh."

People dont like this ? (3, Funny)

RembrandtX (240864) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156063)

This thing screams japan.

200 ft is much less than another 2500 foot store hawking t-shirts and boardwalk crap in Ocean City, MD [where i think these things would clean up!]
Rather than have 100 shops that all sell suntan oil, 70';s iron on decal t-shirts, and assorted crap, put a dozen of these babys in, free up all that space, and put more restraunts, or hell .. ANYTHING.

what i don't understand is folks complaining about how dehumanizing these are.

How is the 'inhumanity' of this machine a factor? Does the bored teenager/non english speaker/insaine freak behind the counter at a 7-11 REALLY provide you with a pleasant and memorable transaction? [Last time I walked into a 7-11 .. i was greeted by the teenage teller pocketing all the pennies from the penny cup.]

Or what about when I walk into a gas station and can't find a single person there who can speak the native tounge of the area. (english.)

No joke, maybe im just getting old, or maybe its different in New England or something, but when I was a kid - i remember being able to stop at a gas station and ask directions.

Last week I was looking for a Dr.'s office in Towson MD. I stopped at a gas station and asked them where [X street was]. They had no idea.
[or I gathered they had no idea, as they kept shouting 'no english, IDUNNO' at me.

I gave up asking the attendants, and called the dr.'s office from the phone outside the gas station. The receptionist answered the phone, and when I told her where I was - she answered cryptically "Turn around."

I did, and she was waving at me from inside the office across the street.

Ok - bad on me for not realizing I *wasn't* lost .. but I was in a strange area that I had never been to before. I wan't to know what the excuse of the folks who WORKED on the street and still didn't know it was.

of course, these machines don't have a map module yet . but GAWSH .. imagine if you could pay it a buck and get printed directions ..

then again .. it probally would get them from map quest :(

Mad Magazine predicted this in 1957 (5, Funny)

joechip (59514) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156074)

In issue 33, June 1957, Mad Magazine has an article called "Vending Machines of the Future." Including are such oversize machines as the Auto-Vend, which dispensed new cars for only 10,000 half dollars and the wife-o-mat, which seems like a great deal at only 20 half dollars.
Finally, there is the vend-o-vend, which is the ultimate in future vending machines which dispenses a vending machine. This will in turn dispense a vending machine and so on. The final vending machine will dispense a dime for the first vending machine and the whole mess starts again...

Yeah well... (2, Insightful)

VivisectRob (550902) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156075)

I work 2 blocks down the street from the damn thing... The prices are outrageous... but... if you need diapers, condoms, or candy at 3am its a godsend. On another note, Adams Morgan consists mostly of low income housing and bars... and if some teen(s) in that housing or even the drunk fratties that frequent the area are willing to buy condoms from that thing instead of not at all, then the world is a better place because of it.

This is totally cool! (3, Insightful)

bopbopaloobop (597609) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156087)

And I disagree with the the editor guy who said "I'm concerned about the people this is going to put out of work," Don't look at people as something that needs to be kept occupied. Think of all the more usefull things people can be freed up for when machines handle simple repetitive taskes. After all, is it a bad thing that there are soda vending machines instead of some guy spending his day standing at a vending stand selling the sodas? Is it bad that traffic lights have taken the place of a policeman standing in the intersection directing traffic? What about the poor scribes who are out of work now that we have copying machines? These people are all freed up to do something more usefull, and hopefully more interesting. This sort of progress is good.

dehumanizing (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4156093)

Others complain about the lack of human interaction and perceive it as dehumanizing.

If you have to count on going to the convenience store for your human interaction you've already been dehumanized.

Old News in Japan (5, Interesting)

MDMurphy (208495) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156095)

As touched on in the article, vending machine rule in Japan. We probably won't be getting the beer machines here, even though a machine is probably better at checking IDs.
A toy store in the Ginza area has a giant vending area outside where there's Barbies and such going up to $100. Giftwrap is also included.

Near where my Mom lived there was an egg vending machine. Best I could figure it was stocked by farmers just outside town. I thought it was a great idea. A very inexpensive storefront for the egg farmer. I wouldn't see that as dehumanizing, but rather a way for the farmer to sell his eggs direct in an affordable manner.

dehumanising? (5, Insightful)

kevin lyda (4803) | more than 11 years ago | (#4156098)

a vending machine is dehumanising? are they trying to imply that working in a convenience store is not dehumanising? i suggest they go try it.
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