Face Pack Vending Machine

Face Pack Vending Machine

You know how there are evenings you just NEED a sheet mask after the shops are closed? We’ve all been there, right??

Hmmm… it’s a very appealing idea, though, to imagine being able to dash out at any hour and buy yourself a face pack from a special vending machine.

I saw these Lovely Mart machines in shopping malls in Beijing, and was delighted by them, although never actually got round to trying one out. But this is something I would like to see in other places too, starting with Singapore!

Digital Vending

Category : Other

Hats off to Acure, the Japanese drinks company which is responsible for many of those vending machines you see offering everything from hot coffee and soup to ice cold sodas on street corners and station platforms round the country.

Their latest machines employ technology that is almost scary – as you approach, a camera detects your face and makes a swift assumption as to your sex and age. Combining this with what it knows to be the time of day and the prevailing weather conditions, it highlights the choice of drink it thinks would suit you best.

I came across one for the first time at Meguro station, mid-afternoon on a day which was unexpectedly a lot warmer than you’d expect for February. I was on my way back to my hotel to drop off armloads of shopping bags, exhausted but still raring to make the most of my one day in Tokyo. The vending machine summed me up and suggested … Red Bull or ion water.

With no hands free to actually pay for or consume either of these undoubtedly excellent options, I had to carry on, but I was still laughing about it ages later. As far as I know, these only exist in Japan at the moment, but I’ll bet this is just the beginning of a global trend.

Book Vending Machine

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Tiong Bahru in Singapore is a hive of hipster cafes, boutiques and independent stores. Its 1920s low-rise apartment blocks have a charming retro look, and its famous wet market includes Michelin starred food stalls. It’s a cool place to stroll, shop and snack on a lazy weekend afternoon.

In this increasingly electronic age, book shops are a disappearing breed, but there is one fabulous example here which fits in very well with the old fashioned neighbourhood feel. If you turned up after closing time, however, all is not lost – BooksActually have installed a vending machine on the pavement outside.

For a fairly reasonable (for Singapore, anyway) S$19, you can choose from a curated selection of reads. More interestingly, you can throw caution to the winds and select a ‘Mystery Book’, hoping you score something to your taste.

I didn’t actually try this, but I was very taken by the idea and hope it is a permanent fixture. If anyone has tried their luck with this, please let me know what you got!

Jelly Coconut Vending Machine

Category : Food

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This was a new one on me. Tucked away in the basement of a shopping centre well off the beaten track in Singapore, I came across a vending machine selling nothing but vacuum packed jelly coconuts from Thailand (spoon included).

There’s a big difference between old and young coconuts. The old ones are the coconuts Europeans most often see – with hard brown fibre coated shells and tough white meat plus maybe a little milk inside. You can find them at every fun fair, or being sold in slices by the seaside for an exotic snack. Fresh green coconuts have to be tracked down at Asian grocery stores, and they are another taste entirely – filled with coconut water, and with soft white jelly clinging to the shell.

Here in Asia, of course, they are the ones you usually see, and once you have drunk the water, the seller who wields the machete to open the shell will usually take it back and carve off a spoon shaped slice for you to dig out the sweet jelly afterwards. Personally, whilst I like them both once in a while, I find a little goes a long way and so I am not a regular customer.

But the health benefits of fresh coconut are supposed to be enormous, and it is arguable that the water in particular does way more to restore your energy than any expensive electrolyte-based after-exercise drink. It apparently contains a whole range of sugars, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and phytohormones (which are growth regulators produced naturally by plants). In very poor countries and some post disaster situations, coconut water can even be used as a satisfactory substitute for saline in an emergency drip.

When I bought my own jelly coconut from this machine, I was delighted to see that it did not drop down like chocolate bars and crisp packets do in your average vending machine, potentially smashing itself all over the dispensing tray. Instead, a metal shelf slid smoothly up for it to roll on, then slid back down to deposit it gently into the hopper for retrieval.

But I was then surprised to find that the (tiny) coconut had been filled with a prepared jelly containing just a small amount of the white flesh. But there was some water in there as well, and the plastic spoon was sharp enough to scrape the real meat off the inside of the shell, so some of the authentic experience remained.

I doubt that a vacuum packed, refilled jelly coconut will have quite the same benefits as one fresh from the tree, but as a tasty, healthy – and at just 150 calories – allowable snack it probably beats the tinned version hands down. S$3.50, and available 24 hours a day!