Here’s something to keep an eye out for if you’re going to be taking a trip to Japan: mind-reading vending machines.
It’s the latest example of cool and weird technology put to good use in Japan. These camera-equipped vending machines see your face, determine how old you are, guess whether you’re male or female, and then suggest drinks it thinks you might like to buy. It offers as many as three or four recommendations.
So far there are only two of these machines in use (in the Shinagawa train station in Tokyo), but 500 more are on the way. I can't wait.
In the old are-robots-good-or-bad debate, I stand on the side of good. I like the idea of a vending machine telling me what I want to drink. Of course, I can choose to buy something else if I want, but it can’t hurt to get a few tips. Especially on those days when I'm feeling indecisive. Also, I imagine it's particularly helpful for foreigners trying to choose between a number of unfamiliar beverage choices.
Is it unnecessary technology? Maybe. But any time you can turn something as ordinary as buying a drink from a vending machine into an entertaining experience, you have my full support.
Now I just need to get to Tokyo.