“Tired of the same old vending machine experience? The Swap-O-Matic will blow your mind, and your capitalist ideas.”
– Fast Company (fastcoexist.com, 2012)
The Swap-O-Matic is a unique vending machine, and expanded project, that allows users to swap items rather than buy. The machine itself, the brainchild of Good World Media partner Lina Fenequito, was created in 2005 as a way to bring awareness to over-consumption. During the project’s time, it has been featured by hundreds media outlets around the world, most notably, CNN.com, Fast Company, GOOD, and The Discovery Channel.
Stage 1 – Discover
With our growing population, world consumption has reached an all time high, affecting almost every facet of human life. The Swap-O-Matic is intended to inspire all of us to rethink our consumption habits, consider more sustainable methods such as trading and reusing goods, and discover techniques to increase local sustainability, reduce waste, and reign in over-consumption.
Stage 2 – Empower
The essence of the Swap-O-Matic is simple…swap or donate items using a “free” credit system in a self-contained environment. The interaction design of the Swap-O-Matic is simple, yet fun. Each of the donated items in the machine is free and there is no charge for using the Swap-O-Matic. The basic currency for a transaction is a “credit”. Credit is earned when the user donates an item, and a credit is required to retrieve an item from the machine. All new users receive 3 credits to start. Users can donate, receive, or swap using the touch screen interface on the front of the machine. Other features, such as a user flag system, are included to prevent misuse and provide occasional curation of the machine.
Even more powerful than the concept and functionality of the machine has been the design of the Swap-O-Matic. It was created to be not only facilitate swapping as a vending machine, but to be an eye-catching attraction in any venue. The machine’s visual aesthetic reflects the retro style of the brand, and each bin is illuminated to attractively display an item to its new owner. The machine houses a touch screen panel, where the user logs in to perform the transaction, and the corresponding door is unlocked to deliver the item.
Stage 3 – Engage
Through the power of design and technology, we’ve taken something as timeless yet simple as swapping and made it into an event that’s exciting, playful, inspiring, and memorable. The design and concept of the machine has contributed to its popularity. Aside from drawing the eyes of users wherever it physically resides, it also captured the attention of the world in 2012 as it spread through social media and major online publications, including CNN.com, Fast Company, GOOD, and The Discovery Channel. Through this popularity, this iconic machine and its message continues to bring attention to the important issue of over-consumption.