New machine uses RFID tech to help gather business intelligence

Soft drinks like Coke have been around for decades. Over the years, many different varieties and formulas of coke have been tried and ultimately failed. Any child of the 80's will remember the failure of New Coke.

Coca-Cola has developed a new high-tech soft drink dispenser that will soon find its way into many fast food restaurants in California, Georgia, and Utah. Should the high-tech machine prove popular, it may find its way into restaurants across the country and around the world.

The drink machine can mix over 100 varieties of sodas, juice, teas, and flavored waters. The machine is called the Freestyle drink dispenser and the first restaurants to get the machine will be McDonald's and Burger King.

The machine is meant to do much more than simply mix a large variety of drinks; Freestyle will be Coke's front-line business intelligence tool that will be able to send back massive amounts of consumption data from all over the country and around the world.

Using the machine, new flavors of drinks will be able to be tested rather than bottling and marketing new drinks that may not prove popular. Coke's Christopher Dennis said, "This is a huge jump from our current fountain dispensers. It's like going from the dial phone to the BlackBerry."

By the end of the summer InformationWeek reports that Coke will have about 60 dispensers in Atlanta, Salt Lake City, and Orange County California. The machines will be rolled out to other locations later in the summer.

The machines will gather information about the types of drinks ordered, and just as importantly, the types of drinks not ordered with the machine. The new system mixes drinks using microdosing rather than the common method of large five-gallon bags of syrup. The cartridges of flavors would be loaded like an ink jet printer and only a few drops would be needed to flavor a drink.

The Freestyle machine will offer 18 different drink brands and runs on the Windows CE operating system. The data on usage patterns collected is sent back to Coke over a private Verizon Wireless network.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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