Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Soda Machine Creates Bottleneck

Project Status: Still Dreaming

Problem

If you have used one of these new soda dispensing machines which provide a variety of drink options you may have noticed the traffic jam they cause when even a handful of people are around to use one of them.

There are many reasons way the line quickly grows for machines like the one pictured here. There are a lot of options to choose from and people get overwhelmed trying to make the perfect choice, not only choosing the drink but mixing flavors into it. It not only fills your drink but also dispenses ice at the same location, which takes time. People are not use to this machine yet so they like to take their time and play with it and figure it out. Also each user must begin making a selection once at the machine, whereas with older style machines you could at least see all the options from afar and begin deciding on a selection before using the machine.

The new machines are awesome, don't get me wrong here, but they surely don't keep up with a herd of people with the same level of efficiency as the older style machines which have individual heads for each drink type provided. The following idea, if implemented correctly, could help to solve that problem.

Solution

The solution to this bottleneck in the flow of traffic is pretty simple with only a few small modifications.

Firstly; each cup needs to be unique. When printing cups in mass quantities the vendor simply includes a QR code. This should either be in the bottom or done in a way such that it can be read from any side of the cup. That way users won't have to struggle to line up the cup, it will just work without them changing natural behavior at all.

Secondly; the machine needs a small reader to scan cups. Each time a cup is held beneath the dispenser its unique identifier is read.

Lastly; a small back-end database added to allow these QR codes to load to an actual website when scanned by anyone else.

How it works

The first time a user fills the cup, the machine remembers what selections are made.

When the same cup comes back the matching drink is already brought into focus for the user to simply use or modify.

Waiting in line before your first fill-up? Why not go ahead and scan that QR code from your phone and select your drink while you wait so that way when you step up to the machine it is one quick button to begin dispensing.

Sitting at your table and curious what other options you had for drinks? That's right, scan the QR code and modify your drink without having wait in line or needing to hog the machine for a period of time.

What's that? You are the store manager and are having a problem with people asking for free water and filling up with soda. You're having cups sneak in to skip buying new drinks with new meals. Haha, no problem my friend. This system can easily be used to handle all those management woes., without the need for hawk-eye employees to police your soda machine or to awkwardly confront your patrons.

Maybe you have a restaurant with one of these machines in the back and you want to insure that waiters get the refills right, every time. Not that I recommend ever taking the restaurant goer's cup away, because it's far better to bring them a new one, but this could still be useful if handled correctly.