The Future of Automated Retail
When Google called me out of the blue one day saying they liked my work on the Coca-Cola uVend project I was flattered. When they asked me to show them my vision of the "future of automated retail" I was shocked; but totally up for the challenge.
After countless hours of sketches, research, renderings and mock-ups I came up with the Google GOODS Experience.
A futuristic, elegant, and approachable quarter-circle design was the foundation for what spawned so many engaging ideas. No more products coiled up in springs or boxes upon boxes stacked behind each other - my vision was that automated retail was more focused on the retail experience and the automation process being a secondary and natural delivery method.
The idea of "window shopping" came to reality as you could literally look through a window and buy directly from the window via touch or from your phone. The products being sold are displayed like a high-end boutique (think Apple/Windows stores) would likely display them; boxes being hidden from sight - all focus on the products themselves.
Physical space for vending machines comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes the lack of space in a desirable location could mean the machine resorting to a less visible location or having less foot traffic; or even prevent it from being on premises at all. I wanted to make sure the machine would as flexible as possible making modularity and approachability paramount.
A single machine being approachable from either the back or the front, or from both sides at the same time were all options. In spaces that offered more real estate, the machines could be synced to offer configurations of two and three machines in multiple configurations. Three machines combined gives you nearly an "in-store" experience.
The machine is approachable and functional from both sides. A convex and a concave side offers not only placement options for vendors but also allows for multiple users, and ultimately two transactions, at once.
The entire purchasing process was re-thought from the ground-up to encourage personalization, security and community.
An integral part of the experience was the companion Google GOODS app.
I developed the name of the experience and created the branding. This just "felt good" when I had the idea, so that usually means it'll work - and as far as Google was concerned, it certainly did.
The Google GOODS app brought geolocation, NFC, and notifications providing awareness to the user and encouraging interaction. On-site product reviews (done via a multi-camera review system built into the machine), ratings, and frequent purchases were rewarded through a system called Google GOOD Credit. This system gave points towards discounts and credit vouchers, but also offered a special game mode - turning the vending machine into a giant game with the possibility of winning real merchandise!
Google wanted to explore the concept in different form factors that would utilize different dispension and display technology. Here were a few variations I came up with.
Doing away with the usual "drop door" vending mechanism, I wanted to capitalize on the unique shape, layout, and high-end feel of the machine. I engineered a double-sided sliding drawer system that is one of my favorite ideas for the machine. I even created a functional 3D prototype in Unity to illustrate the motion and functionality.
Google was thrilled with the hard work that was done, especially in a short amount of time. Though this was just an exploration for them, hopefully some of my ideas will see the light of day in the future.