Touchscreen Vending Machines Extend IT Services

Second-generation units with sensors, optical and touchscreen features keep Intel workforce humming 24/7.

Following a successful pilot program that allowed Intel employees to purchase computer supplies from mechanical vending machines, the company has moved to smart, touchscreen vending machines that offer more features, larger capacity and gather user data.

Touchscreen Vending Machine for computer accessories

Intel employee Christy Wilson-Kim browses the selection of computer parts and accessories available 24/7 at the second-generation IT on the Go vending machines at the Folsom, Calif. campus.

The self-service IT vending machines in the “IT on the Go” pilot that ended in December enabled employees to purchase items such as a keyboard, mouse, flash drive and any of more than a dozen other items with only a few steps at any time, day or night. The second-generation, touch-enabled vending machines now being introduced allow people to select items with greater accuracy as well as get detailed information on each item instead of merely looking at it from the other side of a glass panel. The machines also use cameras and sensors to gather data such as where a person’s eye moves as he or she browses items.

“Where a person looks matters because it helps to know how long it takes to make a selection, whether someone considered other options,” said Intel project manager Catalin Baicu.

The new machines run on an Intel Core i5 vPro processor and use Intel’s AIM suite, which captures data including a person’s gender using anonymous sensors and computer algorithms. Although there is lens near the top of the machine, at no time is the person’s face captured by the camera. Baicu notes that data captured by the AIM suite is not correlated with the employee’s badge number, but that the ability to gather such data could be useful for companies using the vending machines in some situations.

Vending Machines Lower Costs, Boost Efficiency

The vending machines allow self-service purchases 24/7. During the initial pilot 12 percent of sales were made outside regular business hours. It also reduced billing time by 98 percent and streamlined the purchasing process to four steps. Employees embraced the program with a 95 percent satisfaction rating. According to Greg Buzek, president of IHL Group, a retail and hospitality research firm, those results indicate potential for similar programs outside Intel.

“Every company is looking to be more efficient and maximize the skill sets of employees,” Buzek said. “Intel’s concept is rather unique and has a lot of opportunity if it really reduces the number of steps, increases speed and reduces downtime.”

Cosmetics, sundries and branded toys are among the product lines for which Vendors Exchange International has built vending machines, but these are the first by the Cleveland-based manufacturer to exclusively carry computer accessories.

Touchscreen Vending Machine for IT products

A touchscreen and increased product selection are two features of the second-generation IT on the Go machines.

“Our solution is pushing the boundaries of what can be pushed out of a machine,” said Chris Goumas of the company’s Interactive Solutions Division. “Where a typical vending machine is designed to have a total weight of about 7 pounds in a slot, we can push 20 pounds. In a double-wide slot, that is 40 pounds.”

An entire slot full of 3-pound batteries is now possible, according to Goumas, adding that such weight in a standard machine would cause a malfunction.

By adding a slave machine that’s attached to the main unit, Intel’s IT Client Services can expand selection from the 23 items sold during the pilot to 43 or more. The most popular computer accessories from the pilot have returned, including mice, flash drives, keyboards, cable locks and laptop AC adaptors. Initially during Phase II, the products will range in price from a $3.39 mini-USB 20 cable to a $149 docking station. People make purchases by swiping their Intel employee badge and items are charged against the employee’s department.

Rollout of the upgraded machines is underway at Intel’s Folsom, Calif. campus, where the pilot was conducted from June through December last year. From the initial site, the program will see between three and eight of the advanced dual models installed at Intel’s other major U.S. facilities in Hillsboro, Ore., Chandler, Ariz. and the Santa Clara, Calif. corporate headquarters. One dual unit is planned for each of Intel’s smaller facilities in Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. About 30 more machines are planned for Intel’s non-U.S. facilities by the end of the year.

Touchscreen Vending Machines Extend IT Services

Second-generation units with sensors, optical and touchscreen features keep Intel workforce humming 24/7.

Following a successful pilot program that allowed Intel employees to purchase computer supplies from mechanical vending machines, the company has moved to smart, touchscreen vending machines that offer more features, larger capacity and gather user data.

Touchscreen Vending Machine for computer accessories

Intel employee Christy Wilson-Kim browses the selection of computer parts and accessories available 24/7 at the second-generation IT on the Go vending machines at the Folsom, Calif. campus.

The self-service IT vending machines in the “IT on the Go” pilot that ended in December enabled employees to purchase items such as a keyboard, mouse, flash drive and any of more than a dozen other items with only a few steps at any time, day or night. The second-generation, touch-enabled vending machines now being introduced allow people to select items with greater accuracy as well as get detailed information on each item instead of merely looking at it from the other side of a glass panel. The machines also use cameras and sensors to gather data such as where a person’s eye moves as he or she browses items.

“Where a person looks matters because it helps to know how long it takes to make a selection, whether someone considered other options,” said Intel project manager Catalin Baicu.

The new machines run on an Intel Core i5 vPro processor and use Intel’s AIM suite, which captures data including a person’s gender using anonymous sensors and computer algorithms. Although there is lens near the top of the machine, at no time is the person’s face captured by the camera. Baicu notes that data captured by the AIM suite is not correlated with the employee’s badge number, but that the ability to gather such data could be useful for companies using the vending machines in some situations.

Vending Machines Lower Costs, Boost Efficiency

The vending machines allow self-service purchases 24/7. During the initial pilot 12 percent of sales were made outside regular business hours. It also reduced billing time by 98 percent and streamlined the purchasing process to four steps. Employees embraced the program with a 95 percent satisfaction rating. According to Greg Buzek, president of IHL Group, a retail and hospitality research firm, those results indicate potential for similar programs outside Intel.

“Every company is looking to be more efficient and maximize the skill sets of employees,” Buzek said. “Intel’s concept is rather unique and has a lot of opportunity if it really reduces the number of steps, increases speed and reduces downtime.”

Cosmetics, sundries and branded toys are among the product lines for which Vendors Exchange International has built vending machines, but these are the first by the Cleveland-based manufacturer to exclusively carry computer accessories.

Touchscreen Vending Machine for IT products

A touchscreen and increased product selection are two features of the second-generation IT on the Go machines.

“Our solution is pushing the boundaries of what can be pushed out of a machine,” said Chris Goumas of the company’s Interactive Solutions Division. “Where a typical vending machine is designed to have a total weight of about 7 pounds in a slot, we can push 20 pounds. In a double-wide slot, that is 40 pounds.”

An entire slot full of 3-pound batteries is now possible, according to Goumas, adding that such weight in a standard machine would cause a malfunction.

By adding a slave machine that’s attached to the main unit, Intel’s IT Client Services can expand selection from the 23 items sold during the pilot to 43 or more. The most popular computer accessories from the pilot have returned, including mice, flash drives, keyboards, cable locks and laptop AC adaptors. Initially during Phase II, the products will range in price from a $3.39 mini-USB 20 cable to a $149 docking station. People make purchases by swiping their Intel employee badge and items are charged against the employee’s department.

Rollout of the upgraded machines is underway at Intel’s Folsom, Calif. campus, where the pilot was conducted from June through December last year. From the initial site, the program will see between three and eight of the advanced dual models installed at Intel’s other major U.S. facilities in Hillsboro, Ore., Chandler, Ariz. and the Santa Clara, Calif. corporate headquarters. One dual unit is planned for each of Intel’s smaller facilities in Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. About 30 more machines are planned for Intel’s non-U.S. facilities by the end of the year.