What we Need

Yakult Case Study

Yakult vending machine

Yakult’s world-first probiotic drink was launched in 1935. 80 years later, Yakult made reference to their Japanese heritage with our custom-built experiential vending machines. For each Japanese word users correctly pronounce, they’re rewarded with a free bottle of Yakult.

Yakult wanted to create another world-first; a unique unattended experience. With a track record of crazy vending machines in our pocket — ranging from automotive robot arms serving coffee, to singing & dancing vending machines for Tiffany’s & Co — we were their partner to create an experience that truly stood out.

A question of heritage

How do you incorporate Japanese heritage into an experience around a vending machine? 

Together with UK-based interaction design agency Kino, a unique gamified environment was thought out. Users found themselves in an environment meant to invoke Japanese culture. On a beautiful Japanese backdrop, users collected cherry blossoms or spoke directly to the machine — which would reply in turn.

Boost machine in office
Couple using yakult machine

The Opportunity of Gamification in vending

Gamification in a vending machine is the holy grail of unattended experiences. The user plays a game in a Yakult environment, collecting points based on motion (like jumping) and pronunciation of Japanese words. We created a reward system as payment, that, by the end of
the experience, vended a free product.

As cool as the idea is, as complex the ask. The technology we built for this project incorporated motion- and speed sensors, natural language processing, flawless online connectivity temperature monitoring and remote logging.

But when it works, the result is worth every single line of code. Consumers love interactive experiences — they are highly effective marketing strategies, boosting sales & generating brand recognition and visibility.

Yakult app screenshot
Yakult app screenshot
Yakult app screenshot
Yakult app screenshot

Our Response

Cameras – but no data infringement

On a vending machine, Interactivity requires touch. Advanced interactivity requires cameras — but it does not require facial recognition.

We used cameras in the machine to recognise motion; a live, non-recorded, non-stored way of processing data. It allowed us to let users move freely during their gaming experience and measure the movements we needed (like jumping and velocity) — without ever having to infringe on their privacy.

You say it, we vend it

Using an embedded microphone to recognise speech and Natural Language Processing (NLP)technology to detect the (accurate) pronunciation of Japanese words. Users would receive a bottle of Yakult upon correct pronunciation — meaning that speech needed to trigger the machine to vend.

Both technologies combined make for a very fluid, engaging experience.

The Results

The Yakult project was immensely successful and travelled the UK. It was relocated to supermarkets, hotels, public locations, and even science festivals — making headlines in marketing magazines. The public loved it… and so did Yakult. The machine was moved and moved as part of the Yakult campaign until it fell apart.

Meanwhile at Boost inc, the Yakult machine has reached legendary status; it’s one of our most posted-about machines.