One thing that I really enjoyed about my trip to Japan a few years ago was the ubiquity of awesome vending machines. It’s not just about Coke and Sprite, because you also get a range of iced coffees, iced teas, Calpis, and more. Now, it turns out that the “and more” with Asahi Soft Drinks vending machines refers to the inclusion of complimentary Wi-Fi.
They have just unveiled a new vending machine that looks mostly like all of their other vending machines, except for that glowing blue sign at the top that reads “Wi-Fi.” Better still, you don’t have to take out your change and pump some cash into the machine to get onto this wireless superhighway, because Asahi is giving you the Wi-Fi for free.
Each machine will have an effective range of up to 50 meters (about 164 feet) and it will be able to support a connection with multiple devices. You don’t have to register, but you will be pushed to a splash page that displays “location-specific information,” like local stores, sightseeing information, and so on. Each Wi-Fi session is limited to 30 minutes, though clearing out your cookies should allow you to re-connect.
Unfortunately, not all of Asahi’s 250,000 vending machines in Japan will be equipped with the Internet. The plan is to roll out about 1,000 of them to Tokyo, Sendai, Chubu, Kinki, and Fukuoka next year with a total of 10,000 machines being set up within the next five years.