While on a road trip across Tennessee, one of my best friends and I stopped at a restaurant that had several Coca-Cola Freestyle machines for dispensing different types of soft drinks. My friend asked me if I needed assistance with using the machine, as they noticed it had a lot of small print on the screen, and I showed them that I could customize my own drink with the Coca-Cola app and use the Freestyle machine independently. Here are my tips for using Coca-Cola Freestyle machines with low vision, based on my own experiences.
Looking up different drinks
While sitting at the table waiting for our food to arrive, I quickly browsed the list of available drinks on the Coca-Cola Freestyle to figure out what I would want, since it is easier for me to read through the bifocal in my glasses while sitting down. Since I don’t like carbonated drinks, I looked at a few different options for Dasani, Minute Maid, Powerade, and Hi-C, and my friend and I came up with a list of flavors we wanted to try. This was easy to enlarge on the Coca-Cola website, and much easier than standing in front of the machine trying to read the different options.
Using the camera app to magnify text/icons
I prefer to use a different method for accessing the Freestyle with low vision, but I wanted to mention this at the beginning of the post since it requires the least amount of tech skills. Smartphone cameras can serve as a fantastic makeshift video magnifier, allowing users to zoom in on text with the zoom function on their camera so they can more easily read labels and identify logos. This option works well for users who do not want to mix different flavors and just want a single drink.
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Visual interpreting applications
Visual interpreting/visual assistance applications like Be My Eyes are a great way for users to get human assistance with accessing a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, as they can use a one-way video call with two-way audio to communicate with a volunteer that provides visual information and can direct a user on how to use the machine. For example, users can ask a visual interpreter where the button for Hi-C is located, and ask them to read out the different flavors that are available.
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The Coca-Cola application is my favorite way to access the Coca-Cola Freestyle, as it allows users to get access to their favorite drinks by scanning a QR code on the machine using the app- no overwhelming display of options. Once the user scans the QR code, they can select a drink from options on their phone, such as favorite drinks or unique flavor combinations that are downloaded from the app or that are created by the user.
It’s worth noting that as of publishing time, the Coca-Cola application does not support screen readers, but does support Dynamic Text. I don’t actually read a lot of text in the application, as I have learned to recognize logos and drink names based on their colors, which makes it easier for me to identify items.
Another option for accessing drinks from the Coca-Cola Freestyle is to scan the QR code on the machine with the camera application or another QR code scanner, which opens the menu of drinks in a new web browser window. From there, users can view different drinks and select a flavor, pressing the Pour button to dispense the drink without having to touch the machine at all.
Using physical buttons to navigate options
One of my friends finds it difficult to use the touch screen on the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, so they use the physical buttons located underneath the drink dispensing area, which have a wheelchair symbol next to them. When using the buttons, drink options are highlighted on the screen so that users can select drinks more easily.
More reading on using Coca-Cola Freestyle Machines with Low Vision
- Ergonomic Redesign of the Coca Cola Freestyle Machine Graphical User Interface to Improve Accessibility (sagepub.com)
- Coke adds contactless tech to Freestyle machines| Marketing Dive