New soft drink user experience

4 Mar 2011 - 5:00pm
5 years ago
4 replies
2037 reads

I just came back from lunch at a fast food restaurant where they were heavily promoting how you can over 100 flavors of soft drinks now.  They had 2 brand new Freestyle dispenser machines.  The part I found fascinating: despite a large, interactive touch screen display and a *fairly* siimple task, the restaurant had not one, but two, assistants helping each and every person get a drink. 

When it wasn't quite so busy, I talked to each of the assistants and asked them how it was going, plus played with the interface a bit.  They said it was going good.  My take is that it suffers from a lack of visibility as to what optional flavors are available with each 'base' drink... some have 7, some have 5, some have none.  They had tray sheets that showed all the possible combinations.

To see what the machine looks like, there's a pic on the wikipedia page:

You might think that a 'smart' softdrink dispenser could be designed to be, truly, walk-up-and-use in this day and age, but that obviously wasn't the case, since they had staff helping people.

BTW, on an accessiblity note, there's a special button lower on the machine which enables some arrow buttons and has a dynamic labeled button (Enter/Pour) and transforms the upper display to work with a directional pad (Dpad).  But, it was *really* difficult to get that accessibility button to work on the machine I used (hopefully, that's just a one-off problem).


17 Mar 2011 - 8:41pm

Before the question of usability, i wonder - do people want to choose from 100+ soda flavors?
(cf. "The Paradox of Choice" by Barry Schwartz -

19 Mar 2011 - 9:54am

I wondered that, too.  But, a week later, when I was in the restaurant again, I asked someone how it was gonig with the drink machines and they said that it was bringing a lot of people in.  So, I guess there must be some draw.  If it's truly just a novelty, it will wear off.  I did overhear someone on their mobile phone telling a friend about the drink machine, so it *is* creating some amount of buzz for them.

19 Mar 2011 - 12:31pm
Josh B Williams

There was a soda special on TV a few years back. A company representative described these machines as a great market research method to see what flavors they should bring back for promos. People think they are getting customized soda when they are really voting for what gets rolled out for the 4th of July.

21 Mar 2011 - 9:55am

There is one of these machines in a local pizza parlor. The drawback I noticed, from a UX POV, is the individual transaction time. From figuring out the GUI, identifying all the possible choices you can make (have to go through all the screens--choose base then back), not getting the button to register on the touchscreen (either need calibration or a bigger touch target), back button not labeled, etc. The upshot is a 15-minute wait for a drink on a busy night. They could do a redesign of a radial menu, popout the subchoices when the base choice is clicked, instead of the back and forth. It would also keep it on one screen, since the next person in line couldn't figure out how to get back to the main menu.

Syndicate content Get the feed