Americans might be familiar with the bathroom vending machine: a sturdy, wall-mounted device that contains a variety of small goods available for purchase. Payment is made by putting the correct amount of coins in the machine and giving a knob a short twist. That work powers the machine without electricity and deposits the payment in a secure container. Condoms are easy to sell in a vending machine because they are cheap, relatively uniform in size and shape, and always in demand.
Coin-operated vending machines are a great way to sell things in places that have unreliable or non-existent electrical grids, inconsistent supply routes, and a need for new avenues to economic self-sufficiency. This project seeks to get as many machines out as quickly as possible while still maintaining consistent machine reliability and avoiding monopolies by corporations. That is why our research and design group isn't looking to manufacture and sell machines. Instead we hope to distribute blueprints, instructions, prototypes and schematics for building machines under a creative commons license. We want to make the world's first open source condom vending machine.
More photos of the project here.
This project has received an $18,000 NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant. The project description submitted to the NSF and blueprints, can be found below:
We have had several student engineers working on this project. You can check out their works in progress here:
- Joseph Baker's Research Blog - The work log of student engineer, Joseph. Joseph installed the OSCVM Mark I in Ghana.
- John Licato Summer Work Blog- Work log for computer science graduate student John Licato who developed the SMS Condom Locator. A precursor to the OSCVM, the SMS Condom Locator was meant to help Ghanians find condom sellers by sending texts to an automated service.
- 3Helix HIV/AIDS Awareness Project in Ghana- Blog posts from field work in July 1-14 2011 and 2012