You go to Japan and their vending machines are pretty much Prothean technology come to life. You go to a Wal-Mart in Florida and the vending machines are powered by steam. Is that changing? Maybe. The local Fox affiliate has a fun story about Next Generation Vending and Food Service, a Mass.-based company that specializes in, yes, next generation vending machines. Biometrics, credit cards, touchscreens, the works.
Trials of the new vending machines are going on right now throughout the northeast of the U.S., and will continue throughout the rest of the year. If successfull—and they seem to be, with company president John S. Ioannou calling the feedback “great”—they could expand into other states.
Users would be able to link their thumbprint to a credit card. So all you’d have to do to buy a bag of chips or whatever would be your thumbprint on the reader, then off you go.