People Interact

Blog about people-centered design by Lisa Chow and Sandra Sajonas.

Tag Archives: vending-machines

Just In Time for Summer Reading: Book Vending Machines


There’s an app for that. Well, in the world of vending machines, there’s a vending machine for that. Snacks, drinks, shaving kits, batteries, band-aids, and now books.

Just in time for summer reading, JetBlue placed a few vending machines stocked with children’s books throughout the NYC metro area this month as part of its Soar with Reading initiative (they’ve done this with other cities like Detroit and San Francisco). The vending machines are placed in neighborhoods where access to children’s books is limited. Read more over at AMNY and Vending Times (who knew there was a one-stop shop where you can find out about things vending). We’re curious to see and test out the usability of Jetblue’s book vending machines.

Happy vending and (summer) reading! 

MTA Joins the Truck Trend

On a recent outing in NYC I happened upon this MTA truck where straphangers can buy MetroCards rather than having to descend into the bowels of NYC for the MetroCard vending machines.

While this mobile outreach is well intended, there appears to be only 1 of these trucks in all of NYC (population 8 million, area 303 square miles).  You’re more likely to see a shooting star.  If you happen to stumble upon this truck, buy your cards and don’t expect the truck to be there again.

Happy Birthday!

Music for the Mood, Digital Stamps, Vending Machines and More

I got the trend watching briefing “Innovation Extravaganza” in my inbox last month and finally got a chance to look at it after SLA. It features over 30 innovations arranged by 14 trends/categories ranging from happiness to embedded stories.

Here are a few that I found interesting:

  • In the mood for a certain kind of music? Moodagent analyzes and profiles a user’s music collection and then creates playlists to suit their mood.
  • With emails, text messages and instant messages all around us, it’s nice to send a message via snail mail, but chances are you probably don’t have stamps. The Denmark Post now has digital stamps that you can buy via text message and a code is sent to you which then can be written on the envelope.
  • Wonder about the “who, what, when and where” of a donated item? RememberMe allows people to attach stories to donated items using RFID tags.
  • Get or send something different in the mail. Not Another Bill sends a surprise gift every month.
  • Speaking of vending machines in the last post, you can now buy a soda for a friend from a Social Vending Machine and your friend can redeem the drink with the SMS code at participating machines.
Check out the rest here. Which ones caught your attention?

Everyday Usability: Vending Machines

Did you ever try to buy a snack from a vending machine, only to have it stuck somewhere in the dispenser ring and maybe you try to shake or kick the machine in an attempt to get the snack you paid for?

This brings the classic vending machine scenario to a whole new level. I passed by this vending machine in a Boston subway station. I don’t know if shaking or kicking the machine will do anything. There’s no way to tell if the snack is stuck or the system is glitched, or both. I hope the person got their snack or money back. ~ Lisa

Vending Machine

I also had a vending machine experience, albeit a positive one.  I was sitting at Heathrow Airport waiting for my connecting flight and saw this amazingly convenient vending machine.  For about  £4 –  £10 travelers can wait for their flight with a good book. ~ Sandra

Book vending machine

What’s your vending machine story?

Check out more posts in the Everyday Usability series.