In a world where there are vending machines that dispense pizza and hot ramen, it only makes sense that eventually we’d have one that serves up ice cold beer and other adult beverages. Last week, PanPacific unveiled the SmartPan Pro, an age-verifying, beer dispensing vending machine.
If you’re like me, your first thought was well how quickly will a high schooler be able to trick that machine. But according to the press release, the machines use “ultra-accurate finger-vein biometrics as the consumers’ identifier” which also prevents ID sharing. Once the user completes an account creation process, they can use their finger on any SmartPan Pro machine.
The SmartPan Pro is meant for venues like sports arenas and other, similar, high-traffic venues. Operators can add restrictions to the machine to create purchase or timeframe limits.
At first glance, it seems like this type of unattended sales mechanism would be ripe for abuse. Finding ways around booze restrictions is a time-honored tradition, after all. But borrowing someone’s finger to buy a beer is a lot harder than borrowing their ID. Sure, someone could buy a beer and then give it to an underaged friend somewhere else, but that always has and always will happen — with or without vending machines.
But if set up properly, a self-service beer vending machine makes sense. Place one or two in a designated beer garden (to check IDs before getting in), and you can free up human staff to serve higher ticket food items that require more human-level skill. (Well, until robots do those jobs too.)
This isn’t actually the first time you’ll be able to use your finger to pay for beer at a ball game. Last year, CLEAR (of airport fame), debuted a system at CenturyLink Field in Seattle allowing people to pay for concessions including booze.
A combination of tech like age verification, robotics and internet connectivity is transforming the capabilities of vending machines, opening up whole new options for eating around the clock in busy places like airports and hospitals. Though, the ER seems like a bad place for a beer vending machine.