SUNRISE, Fla. Ursus Telecom Corp. has developed vending machines that dispense electronic telephone tickets instead of plastic cards.
The machines resemble airline and movie theater e-ticket dispensers that feature touch screens and are connected to a server. Brandon Bates, director of Internet programming at Ursus, described them as very smart computers that can track marketing data.
They use artificial intelligence to see how sales are doing and at what location; then they move the inventory around, he said. For example, If this machine is not selling the Mexico cards, we move the cards to another machine where there are a lot of Mexican families who call home.
Mr. Bates said that, like automated teller machines, the dispensers will cut down on long lines in stores. But he added that a thief would have no reason to hook a truck to an Ursus e-ticket dispenser and drive it away like an ATM, because theres no actual stock inside. Telephone cards, he noted, are sold in a lot of un-nice neighborhoods.
Ursus plans to show the product at a trade show next month and then operate some machines independently. It will also lease units to merchants that can brand the machines as their own.
The company said it will replace nonelectronic Ursus models that are now in use at 30 airports in Latin America and the United States.