At the movie theater last night, waiting for my lady to fill her “small” enormous soda cup, I noticed a familiar badge on the sleekest Coca-Cola machine I’d ever seen. I leaned in to make sure it wasn’t just a sticker someone had comically added to this shiny red thing; yup, no mistaking a Pininfarina badge.

Let me begin by saying I do not particularly like Coca-Cola, nor do I drink much soda in general. But I for surely appreciate a well thought-out design. Enter the Coca-Cola Freestyle, an exceedingly advanced touch-screen soda fountain, with a sexy exterior from Pininfarina. Since I don’t want to butcher the details of this fine piece of machinery, I’ll let Wikipedia explain:

Technologies involved include microdispensing technology and proprietary PurePour technology. Both technologies were originally developed to deliver precise doses of drugs. One Freestyle unit with a similar footprint to a current vending machine can dispense 126 kinds of carbonated and non-carbonated beverages. Microdosing blends one or more concentrated ingredients in 46 US fl oz (1.36 L) packets with water and sweetener at the point where the beverage is dispensed, thus avoiding the use of traditional 5 US gal (18.9 L) boxes of syrup (also known as a bag-in-a-box). Cartridges store concentrated ingredients in the dispenser cabinet and are RFID enabled. The machine uses RFID chips to detect its supplies and to radio resupplying needs to other units. The machines transmit supply and demand data to both Coca-Cola and the owner including brands sold, times of the day of sales, troubleshooting information, and service data. The traditional ice cube dispenser remains.

So basically, it’s incredible. And yes, you read correctly, the fuckin’ thing is so smart that it basically resupplies itself. I actually saw a movie theater employee take out a refill cartridge and rub the RFID on the outside of the machine until it unlocked itself so he could install it. Amazing.

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Somewhat hilariously, the primary consumer complaint with these technology packed, red wrapped, Italian machines is that due to the unusually high number of choices, folks end up waiting in line for their turn while someone decides which mix’d and match’d soda choice to ingest.

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And yes, I got some very strange sidelong glances as I was taking photos of a coke machine while the audience of Maze Runner shuffled past. Totally worth it.

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