What can a soft drink learn from coffee, dialysis, cancer drugs and RFID scanners?
Ever had one of those moments where all you wanted was a Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke, but all you could get was regular old Diet? Coca-Cola is addressing the problem by introducing a new beverage dispenser. Heralded as the ‘fountain of the future’, the Freestyle – which was first unveiled under the code name ‘Jet’ back in April – offers more than 100 flavour options. There are traditional sodas, flavoured waters, carbonated or noncarbonated beverages, energy drinks and more. ??The Freestyle has a touch-screen interface so you can select a product, such as Fanta, and then the screen gives you several flavour options. Make your selection (‘grape, please!’) and the machine mixes the drink for you right there and then. It can even mix flavours in ways that are not traditionally offered. The ‘PurePour’ technology was originally developed to measure extremely precise amounts of dialysis and cancer drugs. Beyond that, RFID scanners are used to match cartridges to dispensers, and the onboard computer confirms everything is in place. Existing soda fountains use five-gallon concentrate bags and lots of backroom labour. Now all that’s required is a highly concentrated 46-ounce cartridge inside a self-contained machine.?The Freestyle’s dispenser even sends business data back to Coke’s headquarters in Atlanta, including data about beverage consumption, peak-use times and popular locations. Coke can also talk back to the machine and let it know if a particular flavour needs to be discontinued or recalled, which the machine will then immediately stop serving.?Freestyle machines are currently being tested in Georgia, California, and Utah, and there are plans to place 60 test dispensers around the country by the end of the summer.