Wednesday, May 23, 2007

MedCafe kiosks trades drinks for eyeballs

Yes, Eyeballs... but not in the "eww, gross" way, in the advertising way (which I suppose is "eww, gross" for some people). As MediaSoon notes,
Japanese vending machine operator Apex and ad agency WillB are introducing vending machines that will give users a free or discounted drink if they are prepared to watch an advertisement that plays on the touch screen that’s also used to order the drinks. Apex is the country’s second largest vending machine operator and the ad funded freebies will include coffee and soft drinks. Ads will appear on the cups, too, with advertisers paying 70 to 80 yen (roughly 30p, 40 Euro cents or 60 US cents) per cup distributed.
Since it takes about 30 seconds to fill a cup with a coffee, espresso, cappuccino or juices, customers simply stand by and watch advertising on the screen instead of thinking about the quasi-convincing head of milk foam generated from a mysterious white powdery substance emitted from the machine, so it seems like a real win-win for advertiser and consumer alike.

MediaSoon notes, though, that too much success can be a good thing: "the drinks cost... 100 Yen. No surprise that the idea went down great. But WillB got a little more success than they bargained for - no less than 30,800 cups were drunk within a week." Of course, if the cost of the drink is subsidized -- and at between 70-80 yen for on-cup advertising and whatever they get per view of the digital media it looks like it should be -- this concept could take off in lots of high traffic areas where eyeballs might be even more valuable than hard currency.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Florida to ditch electronic voting kiosks

Just three months after Florida Governor Charlie Crist suggested that maybe these newfangled e-voting kiosks weren't such a great idea, 15 counties, including the voting-challenged Broward and Miami-Dade, will get rid of their marginally useful electronic voting machines instead of widely tested optical voting machines that are used by most of the rest of the state, as noted by this article in the New York Times. The move will not only silence critics (like myself) who thought that the kiosks were error prone and easy to sabotage, but will also introduce a much-needed paper trail while making the overall voting process much more simple. The article notes:

The move is the nation’s biggest repudiation of touch-screen voting, which was embraced after the 2000 recount as a way to restore confidence that every vote would count. But the reliability of touch-screen machines has increasingly come under scrutiny, as has the difficulty of doing recounts without a paper trail.

“This legislation will preserve the integrity of Florida’s elections and protect every Floridian’s right to have his or her vote counted,” Gov. Charlie Crist said in a statement. “Florida voters will be able to have more confidence in the voting process and the reliability of Florida’s elections.”

With optical scanning, voters mark paper ballots that are counted by scanning machines, leaving a paper trail that remains available for recounts.

The 15 counties that will move to the optical scanning, which is in place in the state’s other 52 counties, account for about 51 percent of the state’s 10.4 million registered voters. They include Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Hillsborough Counties.

The plan, part of a bill that moves the state’s presidential primary to Jan. 29, was announced by Governor Crist in February. The Florida Senate voted for it last week, and the House of Representatives approved it unanimously on Thursday.

Honestly, people down here had a hard time punching a hole in a piece of paper, and the government's solution was to make them use a computer. I never understood how they came to that conclusion in the first place, but I'm certainly glad that they've decided to revert to a much more straightforward and highly-tested methodology.

e-voting, voting kiosks, electronic voting machines, florida