a man standing in front of a large vending machine

Commitment Device: Constraining Users for their Own Good

Springwise has been reporting on a variety of vending machines that constrain user behavior for their own good.

Businesses often stand by the motto ‘the customer is always right’ — but are they? We’ve already seen a few services that deny consumers what they want based on their personal info.

For example, a vending machine from Luce X2 checks user’s medical records to see if they can buy junk food. A beer vending machine checks your blood alcohol to see if you can have another. Cigarette vending machines check your wellness plan to see if you are trying to quit.

Springwise recognizes the danger that users could resent and reject this design because of the privacy violation of their medical record or of the constraint on their personal autonomy. But if it is voluntary, perhaps as a sign up through their employer’s wellness plan that gives them a discount on their medical insurance, these could be overcome.

My Take

I can think of many use cases where making it voluntary would still fail. Even the most unhealthy person might have a reason to reward themselves with a treat now and again. Or they might be buying the item for someone else, like their children or a coworker. Or what if the facial recognition system mistakes them for someone else?

Your Turn

What do you think? What if it was voluntary and came with a discount on your health insurance? Or as a commitment device similar to Stickk? Would you like the help sticking to your goals?

Image credit: Paul L

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