There’s now a vending machine for pot, booze, handguns, you name it — and we’re pretty sure it’s safe to say the future has arrived.
The so-called “smart vending machine” was developed by cannabis tech company American Green with pot in mind, but Stephen Shearin, a consultant to the company, said it’s up to vendors what they put inside.
Thanks to biometric technology, Amercian Green’s vending machine has eliminated the need for a human to check an ID and verify someone’s age when they’re looking to indulge in some adult vices.
But first, you’ll have to register with the vending machine. To do that, you need a valid ID and an email address, and you do need a human to verify your ID and let you in the system — for now, at least.
Once you’re registered, then come the biometrics.
It feels as if the machine is taking your fingerprint, but it’s actually a biometric vein scanner that scans and saves your vascular architecture — it’s a reading just as unique as a fingerprint, but not as easily fooled.
Once a customer's biometrics are registered, they can use the machine to make purchases. Shearin said the possibilities are endless — picture a baseball fan buying a beer at a crowded game, or a hunter grabbing bullets early in the morning before he heads out in search of game.
Shearin said the company hasn’t come up against any legal challenges, but he’s prepared if he does. He argues the machine is safer than a traditional point-of-sale store.
“The biometric we use is something the military uses to authorize people to walk through gates all around the world,” he said. “You really can’t argue with that.”
Encased in steel and equipped with alarms, the smart vending machine is better guarded against would-be thieves, Shearin says.
American Green has been working on the machine for the better part of a decade. Shearin called the smart vending machine’s initial launch in 2013 an “epic fail.”
“The adoption of smartphones, familiarity with apps on those phones, and improvement in related vending technologies have now merged with a concept that the public could easily grasp before but are much more prepared to use now," said David Gwyther, chairman and acting president at American Green, in a statement.
The company now has 22 machines built. Three more — two in Alaska and one in Oakland, California — will go online next week in local dispensaries.
Technology like this doesn’t come cheap, though. To outfit your establishment with a smart vending machine, you’ll have to ante up about $20,000 for the machine, plus $500 a month that pays for what Shearin calls the “AppleCare concept,” which covers any repairs and updates.
“It sounds like big numbers, but when you do the cost-benefit analysis over few years, the daily expense is really worth it,” he said.
The smart vending machine tallies inventory, tracks all sales and even who purchased what, all features Shearin said are attractive to the regulatory agencies who oversee cannabis and gun sales.