SCENE IN TOKYO: Touchscreen Vending Machine
SCENE IN TOKYO
...wherein we sink teeth into a flaming cliché and fiddle around with homonyms and wordplay transitive to retelling our daily living, working, and existing as mostly sentient bipedal mammals, hive-minding about the big, big city...with video makers in our pockets!
Touchscreen Vending Machine (TRAIN STATION, TOKYO)
When it comes to product consumption vectors in Japan, whether they provide food, drink, or the random supplies of daily life, the only animals more common than convenience stores are vending machines. Useful, reliable, helpfully parasitic artifacts of modern Japanese life, and they're never more than a few minute's walk from...well, basically anywhere.
Meal tickets. Food. Drinks. Umbrellas. Random surprises. Buyable.*
So, here's the math: If Location = Japan + Human Presence of One or More ∴ Vending Machine Exists in Immediate Vicinity, and they are really coming into the information age. Touchscreen units like this one here increasingly populate Tokyo area transit hubs, and it's worth taking a moment to consider the technological advancement and relative luxury these machines represent.
First of all, touchscreen vending machine, okay!
That alone, conceptually, is amazing. Broken down a bit further, it's also kind of amazing that we have the societal wealth and material abundance to provide a supply of high-quality, touch-enabled, large-format screens dedicated to single-purpose vending machines. Well actually, single-purpose isn't entirely accurate...
As you'll see in the video, these machines also provide information about the drink, are networked to provide the current weather conditions and forecast (and probably phone home when they're running out of stuff or being molested), accept mobile/cashless payment, and scan your face to determine your mood, suggest attitude enhancement exercises, dish out beauty advice, and provide stock tips.
...well, maybe those last few features aren't turned on yet - but these machines do have a camera watching the buyers, so "yet" is more appropriate that we might think. Have a watch. It's the future, man.
Oh yeah, and the past, it's still around, too:
Addendum on Japanese Vending Machine Ubiquity & Variety:
If one had to guess, one would guess that there are probably around 250,000 vending machines in in the Tokyo Metro Area (could be more, but I'm not counting), and naturally, not all are created equal. Almost all have lights indicating supply (e.g., red light = sorry, no chunky aloe sugar water or hot canned corn soup to sell at this time), some of them verbally welcome and thank you for your purchase, many accept mobile/cashless payment via NFC cards/devices, and nearly all are accessorized with built-in or adjacent recycling bins.
On the other end of the spectrum, in parts of the countryside, there are a few ancient survivors that sell beer and cigarettes with no age restrictions, and of course there are the run-down, crappy-yet-still-functional ones sputtering along, often to be found alongside rural roads in the middle of nowhere, yet somehow electrified and fully stocked.
*Stories, urban legends, and secondhand anecdotes you might have heard about Japanese vending machines selling used women's underwear, handcuffs, ball gags, puppies, unclaimed white people, etc., while not necessarily untrue, are wildly exaggerated. The existence of a handful of those in the odd sex shop does not a cultural trend or proclivity make.
• • •
Video by Nayalan Moodley, AKA DarcNoodles - Darc.jp