Happiness, apparently, is a warm embrace. At least, for Coca-Cola, which recently installed a “Hug Machine” that dispenses cold sodas in exchange for warm hugs on the National University of Singapore campus. According to Mashable, the huggable machine is part of the soda company's “Open Happiness” project to encourage consumers to “open a Coke and share a little happiness.”
The machine looks like the company's typical red-and-white vending machine, with the words “Hug Me” printed on the front. As advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather says in a statement, “Those bold enough to embrace the machine were rewarded with cans of ice-cold Coca-Cola and left with huge smiles on their faces.”
Soon enough, there were “four to five people hugging the machine at the same time as well as each other! In fact, there was a long line of people looking to give hugs — it was really heartwarming.” In addition to Singapore, Gizmodo reports that Hug Machines will pop up throughout Southeast Asia this year.
And while physically manifesting your love for a product is all well and good, Gizmodo reminds us that this relationship, like many, is strictly a one-way street. Rather than anthropomorphizing the machine, the site breaks down the mechanical process that makes such robotic love possible: “Its sensors register that you have taken this small physical action, but it is utterly unaware of you, as a person, your existence, or even your display of affection (however much that may be just for show).The only connection being made is that of a circuit completed, which causes a drink to spit out of the bottom.” You complete the machine, in other words, but the machine does not complete you.