RFID Vending Machines Provide Fresh Food

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 5.50.39 PMFinding fresh food on the go isn’t always easy, but luckily, there’s RFID for that.

San Francisco-based startup PantryLabs recently started selling a smart vending machine—a sensor-based refrigerated vending machine that allows businesses to offer access to fresh food automatically, with the help of RFID.

The smart vending machine, Pantry, uses a built-in RFID reader to track the food inside via RFID tags affixed to the packaging.

Pantry was developed in order to prevent items from going out of stock, and also offer fresh food to workers and businesses that operate beyond traditional hours, when it might be difficult to obtain fresh food.

In addition to RFID, Pantry connects to a PantryLabs hosted server via Wi-Fi or a 3G network, allowing inventory data to be easily managed.

Pantry users simply apply a pre-encoded, unique ID number to each food item. The label’s ID is linked to the food item’s description and expiration date. Employees simply input the data into the software, the item is placed inside the machine, and the ID number is captured and stored automatically in the server’s software.

From there, food service operators can easily view inventory status and determine when products need to be restocked or removed. The software also offers analytics on which products sell the most, when they sell and on what day of the week. This information can be used to meet consumer demand and remove any unpopular items, maximizing sales.

Currently, there are 15 Pantry machines used by customers, but additional kiosks are expected to be shipped and installed by early 2015.