(no, not really. Read on.)
PepsiCo and BBDO are doing some wild vending machines lately, first there was that social one (which unfortunately didn't spit out Pepsi cans into the nuts of chosen pals passing by), and soon there will be a cooking one. AdAge reports that in a Buenos Aires supermarket this fall people will be able to feed a raw potato into a machine and receive a bag of chips after watching the spud being peeled, boiled, sliced, spiced and baked through a window on the machine. Woah. That sounds mighty futuristic, can I get one of these for my kitchen? Is technology really already here for that sort of stunt? My kitchen appliances can't do this!
Oh, wait, there's a bit of smoke and mirrors involved.
Lays - Vending Machine that makes chips from raw potato
Mr. Pimentel and his team have been working for more than six months to perfect the Lay's machine, which presented enormous technical challenges. For instance, a movement sensor was needed so the machine can sense when a potato is dropped in, and activate both the one-minute video and a separate system for the lights that highlight a list of the six steps of washing through packaging as the video shows the corresponding action. Everything must be perfectly synchronized, ending with the potato-chip package dropping out of the machine at the same second the video ends "or the magic is gone," Mr. Pimentel said.
There's even a small heater at the bottom so the sample pack is dispensed to the shopper warm, like a freshly cooked potato. But the heater must turn on briefly to warm each bag and then switch off, because the machine would melt down if the heater were on all the time.
Finally, the video must be "hyper-realistic," Mr. Pimentel said, so the potato inserted in the machine seamlessly leads into the potato-chip-making video. The machine holds about 150 packs of Lay's. The first, prototype machine cost about $40,000 to develop and Mr. Pimentel estimates that additional machines would cost about $20,000 to $30,000 each.
In short, people insert a potato into a machine, watch a video worthy of Coke's Happiness Factory on the machines exterior, and out comes a pre-heated bag of chips that pretends it was made from your potato. Pfft.