Friday, March 25, 2005

It's the simple things

I read the Japan Times online before I get going in the morning. It's a simple act that reminds me of my mornings in Nakajo with the English language newspaper and a cup of green tea. This morning, I read an article about the new technology sweeping Japan's massive vending machine industry, and how some of Japan's 2.6 million machines now are able to speak - with personality, even.

Thanks to programming greetings, well wishes and questions into the machine, when a Japanese salaryman inserts his yen and chooses a Coke, he might hear a polite hello or even a compliment. The vending machine industry sees this as a simple nicety that can provide an emotional boost to complement the boost of caffeine. However, in a country where much of what can be considered societal interaction now is automated


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