A new coffee vending machine, unveiled today by U.K. coffee company Costa Coffee, will use facial recognition and other technologies to analyze the people using the machine — adjusting the overall experience, advertising and initial coffee options based on the general demographic information it deduces about each customer.

Do you look like a teenager? You might be presented with options for mochas and other sweet drinks. Have the face of a retiree? If the stereotype holds, it’s probably an array of standard drip for you.

That’s one of the features of the new CEM-200 machine, unveiled by Costa Coffee’s Costa Express unit at the National Retail Federation conference in New York City today. The system, which uses technology from Intel and others, was integrated by Bsquare Corp., the technology company based in Bellevue, Wash.

Don’t worry, the companies say, the approximate demographic information deduced by the machine is kept anonymous, respecting user privacy, although it is aggregated for purposes of analytics, to find out what’s working and what’s not among specific segments of the customer base.

Other data collected includes dwell time, to figure out how long people are standing in front of the machine before and after making a purchase. The analytics are routed through a central network operations center that monitors the machines.

The advanced sensing technologies are just one of the high-tech features in this machine, which boasts a 27-inch touchscreen. The goal was to involve all five senses, explains Mark Whiteside, Bsquare’s senior vice president of professional services. The machine can pump out smells and sounds, as well.

Bsquare is no stranger to automated beverage vending, having also worked on Coca-Cola’s Freestyle machines.

This Intel backgrounder provides more information on the technology: PDF.

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  • Guest

    Adjusting the overall experience: “You appear to be over 30 years old, no milk in your coffee for you!” or “You appear angry, decaf is your only option.”

  • wontbuycoffeehere

    oh hell no

  • Bary

    Amazing tech! This thing is more powerful than my laptop – it’s running an Intel i7!

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