MediCafe Vending Machine Takes Your Time, Not Your Money

The old expression "Time is Money" is about to be put into practice by Japan's newest vending machine. The revolutionary MediCafe dispenses "free" beverages while you wait - for a 15 or 30 second ad to play. Since the machine is designed to serve juices and coffee in cups, customers have time to kill anyways so why not take advantage of the situation? We can assume the reasoning of a clever employee at Japan's Corporation WillB went somewhere along those lines, and the result is the ground-breaking MediCafe machine. Vending machine operator Apex plans to install up to 35,000 MediCafe machines in large corporate offices, community centers, hospitals & rehab facilities, schools and roadside rest stops. Just for clarification, "MediCafe" doesn't vend pills & prescriptions - the name combines "media" and "coffee", and that's exactly what patrons get. For free, yet!

So, just how does MediCafe work? You select your preferred drink and then watch, amazed or amused, as a short advertisement beams into your consciousness through a high-quality 19" monitor. Before you know it, your drink is ready and off you go, synapses and tastebuds fulfilled in equal measure. Sounds kind of creepy... thirsty customers basically become willing pawns in a bizarre McLuhan-esque interplay, a Faustian bargain for a frosty beverage as it were. Turning your back and refusing to play along won't get you off the hook - the cup you're holding is itself an ad for the company so there's no escape! Bwa-ha-ha!

I guess it just goes to show you how tough times are these days for advertisers. Consumers are recording their favorite TV programs on DVRs, then playing them back sans ads, for instance. Away from the boob tube, increasingly distracted consumers treat the seemingly endless barrage of commercials and come-ons as background noise. It takes innovative efforts like MediCafe to get around the static so advertisers can get their message through. What remains to be seen, though, is whether thirsty consumers will go the way of Pavlov's Dog, drooling at the sight of a certain ad... 'tis the stuff advertisers' dreams are made of!

The MediCafe Vending Machine from Apex will begin appearing in June of 1984, that is, 2007 at selected locations. Today Japan, tomorrow the world!

Steve Levenstein
Japanese Innovations Writer