IoT: Smart Connected Planet

Cupcake ATM: Reimagined Technology Feeds Sweet Withdrawals

Ken Kaplan Executive Editor, iQ by Intel

We’re officially living in the future and it’s pretty sweet. While traditional ATMs are of little use for people who increasingly rely on credit cards and digital payment services, stopping at an ATM for a midnight snack is becoming all the rage for Sprinkles Cupcakes’ fans.

The Beverly Hills, California-based cupcake company opened its sixth 24-hour Cupcake ATM at its Lexington Street location in New York City in March, with plans for four more locations in the months ahead.

The latest sweet-dispensing ATM machine is powered by a 3rd generation Intel Core i5 processor, holds 760 cupcakes at a time and pops out confections 10 seconds after the customer selects a flavor.

Since opening in March, the Cupcake ATM has seen long lines around the block, as well as massive press coverage from the likes of The Wall Street JournalABC News and Ad Week.

Their first ATM was installed in 2012 at their Beverly Hills location on South Santa Monica Blvd.

“It gets restocked with fresh cupcakes throughout the day and by the last employee to leave every night,” said Candice Nelson, founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes.

She now has ATMs in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas and New York, with plans to install new machines at locations in Washington DC, Scottsdale, AZ and California locations, including Glendale and Palo Alto.

Vending machine technology hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years, but Intel’s about to change that, according to Joe Jensen, Intel Retail Solutions Division general manager.

“The Sprinkles ATM is a great example of Intel technology,” says Jensen. “We’re powering the transformative experiences that help shoppers connect with the brands they love.”

There’s an installed base of over 16 million “dumb” freestanding vending machines around the world, with shipments expected to grow at a rate of 49% by 2016, said Jensen.

He’d like to make them all smarter.

According to a recent Intel consumer survey, 61% of consumers want to interact and have more fun with their vending experiences. The survey also showed that 62% of customers would like their vending machines to offer loyalty discounts, while the same percentage would also like a touchscreen experience — all of which Intel-powered machines can offer.

“Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has 100,000 machines to manage,” says Ger O’Keeffe, retail market segment manager from Shannon, Ireland.

“You want the ability to quickly change prices based on weather or time of day. You may want the ability to advertise, you want to understand your customer better, you want to know what people are buying.” Today, just simply changing the price of a candy bar from $1.00 to $1.25 can take weeks, even months, as technicians must visit machines in person.

Innovations, including the Intel Reference Design for Intelligent Vending collection of technologies, are giving retailers new tools to install Internet of Things-ready vending machines.

“This will reduce engineering efforts so that [vending machine companies] can bring machines to market faster,” explains O’Keeffe.

“The vending machine is often considered a dusty machine in the corner,” notes O’Keeffe. “We want to change that.”


Photos by Sprinkles Cupcakes.


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