Manufacturers began building soda fountains in 1832, and while small technological advances have been added to the original design with time, the overall concept has largely remained the same. In 2005, Coca-Cola set out to revolutionize how soda is dispensed. The Coke Freestyle machine was developed over the next four years and was first featured in fast food restaurants for beta testing in 2009, offering more than 100 drink options to restaurant patrons. The Coke Freestyle features a touchscreen display that allows consumers to quickly customize the drink of their choice, whether opting for a traditional Sprite or a customized Seagram’s Diet Ginger Ale Raspberry.
While the touchscreen display is an exciting addition to soda dispensers, the real innovation can be found inside the machine. Coca-Cola partnered with Impinj to implement RFID technology within the machine. The revolutionary dispensing platform’s design utilizes both Impinj Monza tag chips and Indy reader chips, which together provide the core RFID capability of the system. The Coca-Cola Freestyle system uses RFID to monitor, track and maintain dispenser operations as well as to provide real-time business analytics about product consumption and preferences.
Awareness and usage of the Coke Freestyle machine has substantially increased since 2009, with over 20,000 machines located in outlets across the country. Recently, Coke released an app for both iPhone and Android that allows customers to explore drink combinations available on the Freestyle machine and share them on Facebook. Customers can also use the app to locate nearby Freestyle machines, check-in to earn badges and prizes, or request a Freestyle machine be installed near them.