The BC Moments Machine (Yes, It’s A Vending Machine)

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

Production agency The Media Merchants recently collaborated with Citizen Optimum PR, ad agency Dare and Tourism British Columbia to operate TMM’s 14’ tall, 10’-wide vending machine for Tourism B.C.

From May 17-19 in San Francisco’s Justin Herman Plaza, San Franciscans were surprised by the kiosk dispensing mementos from British Columbia, Canada, including mountain bikes, golf clubs, surfboards and much more.

The BC Moments Machine is an component of the ongoing ‘100 BC Moments’ cross-media campaign from Tourism British Columbia which is actively encouraging travelers to experience everything B.C. has to offer this summer. This latest high-profile promotion in San Francisco follows a successful Tourism BC event in 2010, also in San Francisco.

“We were thrilled to return to California to surprise San Franciscans with the BC Moments Machine,” says Carol Nelson, executive director of marketing, Tourism BC. “The installation allowed us to show the people of San Francisco the diverse range of travel experiences they can find in British Columbia this summer in a way that was extremely fun, and hopefully very memorable.”

Anthony Diehl, TMM’s technical director, and his colleagues worked ‘from scratch’ to develop the interactive system that drives the BC Moments Machine, which was necessary due to the type of assets being dispensed as well as the flow of the video and animation content presented during its operation.

“To create moments that clearly communicate just how awesome vacationing in BC is, we planned out how the unit would look and work, including how the internals and interactive system would function and how the mementos would be stored,” says Diehl. “The final result, from the sheer size and impact of the BC Moments Machine to the very realistic user interface and dispensing process, made a huge impact, and left most visitors more than a little stunned!”

TMM designed the BC Moments Machine to run from one powerful production server feeding four screens.

A 22″ touch screen, a 22″ messaging screen, a very bright 6′ x 8′ rear projected screen for the large vending display and an internal administration screen. The system ran a custom application developed in Open Frameworks and featured a real-time inventory management system that prevented users from selecting out-of-stock items.

To get maximum punch on its vending display in such a tight enclosure, the team used a Christie S+ 20K projector and a custom mirror system that reflected imagery onto the external screen.

“From a technical standpoint, we had to develop a way to synchronize messaging across multiple screens, fit a massive projector into a very tight space and have enough room to fit items inside,” Diehl added. “So we had a project that would lend itself to needing a lot of hardware and a lot of space, but it had to all fit into a 9′ x 10′ x 14′ area along with kayaks, surfboards, bikes and dozens of other mementos. By keeping the final result clearly in view throughout each design stage, we ensured that we met these tight requirements.”

The Machine was ‘on’ from 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m, each day of the activation. Much of the time it was in a ‘resting’ state, where it
still displayed messaging and information on the screens. At random times during each day, it would go into ‘active state, and during those times, everyone who interacted got a prize.

Well over 600 prizes were dispensed. Each prize was in some way related to the destination chosen, and ranged from small items like Clif Bars, tea cups and water bottles up to full sets of golf clubs (eight sets were given away) to Brodie Bikes, Sitka skim and surf boards, inflatable kayaks and a lot of native art.

“There are discussions around the vending machine being used at a later date in another location, but nothing has been confirmed at this time,” says Brad Foster, TMM managing director.

2 Responses to “The BC Moments Machine (Yes, It’s A Vending Machine)”

  1. Jake Says:

    How long before someone shakes this thing until it falls on top of them ?

  2. TheVok Says:

    I assume that’s a trick question; as mentioned, the vending machine is no longer there. 😉

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