Maytag to Develop Smart Vending Machine

Appliance maker Maytag Corp. yesterday announced it has teamed up with eVend.net Corp. to develop and market a smarter vending machine, one that can process credit-card transactions -- which have traditionally taken only cash -- and dispense pricier goods, like clothing.

The alliance with eVend.net, based in Kennett Square, Pa., will give the Newton, Iowa-based Maytag exclusive rights to use eVend's embedded Internet connectivity technology in its Dixie-Narco vending equipment. Maytag declined to say how much it paid to take an undisclosed stake in eVend, which makes technology to control vending machines and appliances over the Internet.

"This is a very interesting concept -- eVend's vending machines can be connected and monitored through an Internet site," said Maytag spokesman Jim Powell. "The technology can be used to allow vending machines to process credit-card purchases. And we will be making machines that can physically handle (larger) products. Imagine being able to buy a sweatshirt from a vending machine at the beach if you're cold."

Allison Roberts, a spokeswoman for eVend, said her company was a technology firm looking for a sponsor.

"Maytag Appliance will allow us to leverage our technology to a larger market," she said.

Powell said he didn't know when the new product would be developed, or become commercially available.

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