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Friday, June 17, 2011

Houston gets Coke machine of the future

Coca-Cola Freestyle soda machine in HoustonI went into the Firehouse Subs at Houston's Meyerland Plaza a few weeks ago and saw the staff offering customers guidance on its new drink machine. I worried about society for a minute until I saw how advanced the machine was! The employee says this futuristic machine is one of six currently in the Houston-area.

Now being called The Ferrari of Coke machines, (because as the Firehouse Subs employee told me, the casing is actually made by Ferrari), the Coca-Cola Freestyle soda machine is catching on across the world supposedly.

The machine that lets you create more than a 100 different flavors is made to feel like you are getting your drink from an Apple product with its simple touch screen and dizzying area of features.  (the employee told me Apple was involved in the software running it but I have not confirmed that anywhere). It also promises a cleaner taste (read less plasticy).

Here is a description from a report in the Seattle's The Stranger:

The machine has a field of circular app-like buttons with Coca-Cola brand names on them: Diet Coke, Fanta, Vault, Dasani, Sprite. When you touch a logo, it brings you to a submenu with flavor options. Press "Coke," say, and you're delivered to a screen with a choice of regular, lime, orange, vanilla, and raspberry (I am assured by a PR person that raspberry Coke is very popular in Europe). Then you depress the huge "Pour" button to fill the cup as much as you like. You are encouraged to mix flavors, freestyle.

That's not all. You can also create your own flavor, use an app to store 'the recipe' in your iPhone, then use your phone to scan it back to the machine. That means you get the exact same mixture of drink and flavoring every time with the swipe of your phone. No more fumbling on the touch screen to get that perfect lime Diet Coke flavor as a sweaty guy behind you in line stares you down as he is jonsing for a caffeine fix (that guy could be me by the way).

As a Dr Pepper fan, I learned that I could not mix in any flavors.  That's because Dr Pepper is not an official Coke product and could not be altered like the other featured Coca Cola drinks.

This video gives you an idea of what you can do.

So will this catch on? Or is it too complicated for both the restaurant and the consumer? Only time and lots of carbonation will tell. COMMENT: Click to leave your thoughts on this post here