Check out this incredibly cool project Adventure Box Proejct that not only is a great Arduino-powered vending machine, but is also a place to discover a huge range of hand-made toys contributed by the artists and designers participating:
Adventure Box started when some friends wondered, “How awesome would it be to have a vending machine filled with hand-made toys?” The idea grew and became an interactive art project, one that dispenses a hand-crafted mystery to those who discover it. This project was conceived as a merging of digital and physical interaction – each half working together to create a magical experience.
Each toy is made in a limited batches by friends and local artists. They are designed to inspire adventure when received, either conceptually or aesthetically. Every toy has its own entry on this site, where there is more information about the artist and how they made the toy. We hope to inspire others to create their own adventures just as we have.
Adventure Box is a combination of many different online, and offline, technologies. The vending machine’s brains lie within an Arduino Mega. This allows a program that reacts to inputs and dictates appropriate outputs.
The machine contains LEDs and speakers that provide user feedback when it is used. Each toy capsule contains a RFID chip with a unique identifying code. When the capsule comes down the chute, RFID readers attached to the machine scan the chip inside the capsule. The code is then sent to an online database which in turn passes information about that toy back to the machine which is displayed on a LCD screen. The machine then sends a tweet from the @ToyBoxProject account and marking the toy as “sold”. The database is also used to generate the grid of toys on this website, which can be searched using the code that comes with the toy.
If you are interested in the build process or more information about the technology, please check out the project blog.