New Vending Machine Can Deny You Snacks

Facial recognition technology could 'remember' you're on a diet
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2014 8:31 AM CST
New Vending Machine Can Deny You Snacks
A new vending machine could theoretically deny you this stuff.   (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

In the mood for potato chips? In the future, you may need a snack machine's approval. The Luce X2 Touch TV vending machine has facial-recognition technology, meaning it can, apparently, identify customers and remember their snacking profiles. That means, for instance, that it could offer you your favorite chips—or perhaps deny you an unhealthy snack based on your age or medical records, the Telegraph reports. A gym could set up the machine to refuse fatty foods to people on diets, while a school could ensure that kids don't get cigarettes, the paper notes. Similar technology has been debuted by other companies; a version produced by software firm SAP can even link to your social media accounts so you can give gifts to friends, Tom's Guide reported in March. (Said friend would then be alerted that a pack of M&Ms could be picked up via code at any connected vending machine.)

But Jezebel fears a "potential nightmare": For instance, "what if you're 30 and the machine thinks you're 40" and denies foods accordingly? Well, this isn't a big-brother situation, says a rep for Luce X2 supplier Smart Vend Solutions. "It’s not as if it’s going to spy on you," he says, noting that users don't have to opt in to the data tracking system. The device was recently unveiled in the UK; whether it has a future in the US isn't yet certain, the Los Angeles Times reports. As for SAP's smart vending machines, a senior director interviewed by Tom's saw chips and sodas as just the beginning; he said some companies have expressed interest in using the machines to get equipment to their employees. (Meanwhile, a comedy club in Barcelona has been using facial recognition technology to charge visitors for each laugh.)

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