Georgia Coffee in Japan has created a mobile app in which a virtual woman texts friendly messages to users as they approach vending machines, according to an article on CNET.

The app is called Hanaseru-Jihanki Georgia (which translates as ‘Georgia the talking vending machine’). Users scan QR codes on machines they often visit. When their phone is in the proximity of a scanned machine, messages with greetings, pictures, coffee suggestions, and even weather advice will appear. Users also have the option of sending response texts.

Mingling with the machine

With over 5 million vending and auto-service machines, Japan is well known for its automatic vending industry. Despite this, the number dropped by more than 497,000 machines between 2005 and 2011, according to the Japan Vending Machine Manufacturers Association. Machines have since made a slight comeback of a little more than 8,000 in 2012.

As suggested by what we have seen with the falling popularity of machines in the US, consumers are turning away from the traditional vending machine in favor of something more human-like. At the same time, this is a society which is witnessing the rise of cyber girlfriends.

Widespread use of mobile technology is creating more ways to pull the consumer to the product. Moreover, chat applications have been growing in popularity. Line, one messaging app, reported 47 million users in Japan alone last August, according to an article on Tech in Asia. We’ve already seen the ability of users to text their refrigerators in Korea, so why not receive greetings from the local vending machine?

Companies providing services via automatic machines can take advantage of these new technologies to attract and sustain consumer attention.