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Biometric drink machine knows what you want

Vending machine
Some machines take e-cash, others prefer the human touch

A novel use for biometric authentication technology from Hitachi might sound like a bit of fun, but the company's new drinks vending machine could be the tip of a scary new advertising iceberg.

The new device, which is due to be tested in Hitachi offices later this year, uses finger vein authentication to match a customer with their pre-registered credit card.

Registered account

After that, it's a simple matter of the system charging the card for whatever the user takes from the machine.

The vending machine also features a large LCD display for showing advertising or company information if it's inside an office as Hitachi intends.

Data as commodity

The troubling aspect of that, however, is that once the system knows who's standing in front of the machine it can deliver advertising tailored to that person's purchasing history.

So, if a customer has a six Mars bars a day habit, it's entirely likely that ads for health clubs or diet remedies will also be forced down their throat, thus continuing the commoditisation of our shopping history that began with loyalty cards.