As a child, there was something magically rewarding about dropping some small change into the slot of a gumball machine, turning the lever and being rewarded with some hard candy. The Razorfish Emerging Experiences team has now updated the mini-vending machine for the digital age with a prototype Digital Gum Machine that delivers a digital treat to a smartphone in exchange for a 50 cent coin.

We've seen quite a few examples of near field communication (NFC) technology here at Gizmag and although it's been around for a few years in one form or another, its rumored inclusion in the next generation iPhone is being heralded by some as its big break into mainstream, everyday use. The Razorfish Digital Gum Machine was designed to broaden the often limited current view of what can be achieved with NFC and does so in a fun way that's almost guaranteed to generate healthy waves of nostalgia.

It was recently assembled over a two day prototyping session at the team's Frankfurt office. Within the metal base of an original gum machine, the designers positioned a Samsung Galaxy Tab to provide users with some animated visuals, an Adafruit NFC shield running on some tweaked Adafruit NFC code, a simple reed switch and two Arduino microcontrollers.

After inserting a 50 cent coin into the slot and turning the lever, a digital goodies buyer places the smartphone near the release shoot to have an app, movie trailer, song, e-book, digital lunch voucher and the like delivered directly to the mobile device without treading anywhere near cumbersome SMS texts, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi waters. The buyer doesn't actually control what's sent from the gumball machine installed at the Razorfish office, it's been set to random.

Have a look at the following demonstration video and let us know what you think.

Source: Razorfish, via Hack A Day