Ever had one of those moments where all you wanted was a Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke, but all the fountain could offer you was regular old diet? Coca-Cola is doing away with that problem by introducing a new beverage dispenser. Heralded as the "fountain of the future" by Coke PR flaks, the "Freestyle"--which was first unveiled under the code name "Jet" back in April--offers more than 100 flavor options. There are traditional sodas, flavored waters, carbonated or noncarbonated beverages, energy drinks and so on. Even flavors not currently available in the United States.
This video is the first look at the Freestyle's touch screen interface, which is designed by Bsquare Corporation. Select a Coca-Cola product, such as Fanta, and the screen offers several flavor options. Choose the one you want (Grape, please!) and the machine mixes the drink right then--it can even mix flavors in ways that are not traditionally offered.
The machine is more technologically complex than you'd imagine. 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 labor. Now all that is required is a highly concentrated 46-ounce cartridge inside a self-contained machine.
Another perk is the business data the dispenser sends back to Coke's headquarters in Atlanta. The machines upload data about beverage consumption, peak times, and popular locations. Coke can also talk back to the machine, letting it know if a particular flavor needs to be discontinued or recalled and causing it to stop serving the drink immediately.
Freestyle machines are currently being tested in Georgia, California, and Utah. Coca-Cola has said it plans to place 60 test dispensers around the country by the end of the summer.