Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Vending Machine Locator & Stock Level

Where is the Vending Machine? What does it have?
  [vote for,

The idea is to register all vending machines irrespective of their owner or provider and provide the listing over the internet. This list should be updated with stock levels so that the user need not go to the Vending machine to know that a product is sold out. The range of this service can be with in an office building, with in a corporate complex, with in a city etc.
concept, Jun 10 2003

List of Internet Accessible Coke Machines http://www.cs.ucsd....users/bsy/coke.html
[krelnik, Oct 04 2004]

How to... http://www.cs.rit.e...erview-summary.html
[Shz, Oct 04 2004]


       This is a great idea. The vending machines are three floors below my office and I hate going down to get a package of chocolate Zingers only to find I have to settle for butterscotch. I would rather not make the trip. Croissant pour toi.
kevindimie, Jun 10 2003

       One obvious drawback: vandals could check also check for machines with low stock levels and, hence, high cash contents. So you'd want the stock checking function to be entirely separate from the directory. Automatic inventory tracking is an idea whose time has come upon us, though, so I can see this part of the idea working.   

       But an Internet page listing the locations of all vending machines seems like a quixotic "let's all" kind of idea. Who's going to keep it updated, as machines are installed and removed?   

       I think it would be simpler to make the machines WiFi, or similar, so that they notify anyone with a suitable device in the neighborhood that they are there. This, with some encryption to keep the vandals at bay, might also be a way to alert the delivery truck driver that a machine needs feeding.
DrCurry, Jun 10 2003

       Many soda machines are instrumented to automatically reorder, and there are a number that have been given Internet front ends (mostly at Universities). See link.
krelnik, Jun 10 2003

       This shouldn't be hard to do with current vending machines. I know some vending machine operators use SMS to inform them when supplies are running low. Thus they can easily be reconfigured to show stock level instead of boolean values, and directory listing is just a matter of actually making it publicly accesible.   

       Now, for those machines without tracking devices, I'm sure it's easy to integrate sensors, they just don't want to invest on additional hardware.
nox, Jul 16 2004

       I work for a company with 100k+ vending machines across Europe and North America.   

       What [concept] describes here is the utopia for vending companies - we would all wish to know at a glance the stock levels for our equipment as it would allow for more efficient stock filling.   

       [nox] points out that some machines have SMS facilities and trackers which may allow this, but these machines are currently few and far between. It would be very expensive to retrospectively fit such devices because you would also have to change the internal electronics in many cases.   

       In addition, many 1000s of vending machines are operated by individuals and not by the soda companies - we have no right (as a company) to know the stock levels in these machines and to make them available via an internet site. That would be up to the machine operators.   

       Lastly, to concur with [DrCurry]'s point, a low stock level may indicate a high cash level which may just pinpoint the best machines to vandalise for those so inclined.
jonthegeologist, Jul 16 2004


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