It seems that one of my new year´s intentions comes true: I want to build a ubiquitous computing sample each month (in average). And last Friday we managed to connect a vending machine to our voice control system Tropo to get it´s state via phone and to buy something via voice or DTMF.
Thanks to our M2M partner Cumulocity that was all in all damn easy: They have a sensor cloud including real time administration tools which you can access through the Developer Garden for free. Furthermore Cumulocity, a Nokia Siemens Networks spin off, has a cloud based vending machine telemetry solution (aka VendMe) in its portfolio. So we only had to plug the bricks together.
In detail: For our proof of concept we created a PHP application which connects to the API of the Vending Machine via REST with JSON and uses Tropo´s capabilities handling voice calls to tell the user via text-to-speech what´s going on. Once the user has selected a slot (either via phone or keypad) the machine gets the information through the air, the payment is transferred and a confirmation is send back to the user – in this case we again use Tropo to send a text message. As usual the best thing comes at the end: Grab the gummy bears and enjoy!