A Better Soda Machine


You may think soda-pop is a market not prone to technological innovation, but in actuality, soda is anything but simple. Companies are always looking for new ways to improve the experience of buying and drinking a soda, and a new machine is using connected tech to take soft drinks to a new level.

The Coca-Cola Co., www.coca-cola.com, is rolling out its next-generation beverage dispenser, the Coca-Cola Freestyle, and this new self-serve kiosk is chock full of technology. The machines use mobile-device management software from Odyssey Software, www.odysseysoftware.com, for remote-management capabilities. Called Athena, the software works in tandem with Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager 2007 console.

Using these technologies, the beverage dispensers can quickly deliver more than 100 drinks to customers, who select an option on a touchscreen display. In addition, RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags inside the machine allow the device to keep track of the status of the many cartridges of concentrated flavors. These cartridges let the Freestyle concoct more than 100 beverages in the same space of traditional fountain machines.

The Athena product allows Coca-Cola to remotely collect a variety of information from the machines, such as consumption data on which beverages are most popular. The company can also manage the devices from afar.

Using this technology can prove to be quite the benefit for companies when it comes to product placement as well, says Mark Gentile, CEO of Odyssey Software. By monitoring the rate at which consumers pour a certain beverage flavor in a particular region, for example, Gentile says Coca-Cola is provided some realtime market analysis unlike any other. For example, let’s say the usage patterns show that consumers in Atlanta are pouring a certain type of custom beverage over-and-over. Perhaps Coca-Cola would consider bottling that particular flavor of soda and selling it to that specific region.

“Odyssey Software’s Athena provides us with the ability to remotely collect consumption and operational data from these state-of-the-art beverage dispensers and provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to use the data to make marketing and business decisions,” says Gene Farrell, vice president, Coca-Cola Freestyle, Coca-Cola North America.

Connected World magazine detailed the Coca-Cola Freestyle in the Game Changers section of its July/August issue.

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June/July 2014
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