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Nelson's SMRT1 Technologies inks five-year smart-vending contract with UpMeals

SMRT1 Technologies founder Brad Pommen and Drew Munro of UpMeals (left and right respectively) lean on the new machine that will offer safe access to fresh and healthy meals 24/7 with a reduced ecological footprint. — Submitted photo

SMRT1 Technologies, a Nelson-based supplier of smart vending solutions, has signed a five-year contract to provide smart vending solutions to Vancouver-based company, UpMeals.

UpMeals uses smart vending to offer safe access to fresh and healthy meals 24/7 with a reduced ecological footprint. For example, people who work in a large office building in a big city, can buy a fresh salad from a vending machine, any time of night or day.

"Imagine having fresh and healthy food options available 24/7 at work," says the UpMeals website.

SMRT1 Technologies provides the software to allow vending machines to operate at an advanced level. Smart vending machines can be described as intelligent machines that grab the attention of customers and offer a wide range of products.

The analytics are used to create a real time experience where the customer is pushed to spend as much as possible in their exchange with the vending machine.

This system is far from a standard high school vending machine. Technically speaking, SMRT1's product, SMRT1 POD, uses an interactive display screen on refrigerated vending machines that engages, informs and drives UpMeals' sales while offering secure transactions to the food retailer's customers.

SMRT1 Technologies is a technology company that specializes in “Interactive, cloud-connected, smart dispensing solutions that provide engaging, frictionless, convenient, customer experiences," says their site.

This contract is a major accomplishment for this small Nelson team.

"It's a super exciting opportunity for SMRT1 to establish a long-term contract with an up-and-coming company like Upmeals out of Vancouver," says CEO of SMRT1 Technologies, Terry Van Horn.

"This solidifies the solution that we've created and validates our solution as a smart vending solution."

SMRT1's smart vending technology provides feedback, inventory control and extensive analytics directly to the team at UpMeals in real-time from each SMRT1 POD across multiple locations.

UpMeals' clients can use SMRT1's technology to remotely oversee their smart vending machine and create custom-built menus, loyalty programs and discounts for meals approaching expiry. 

"We provide the technology that makes vending machines smart," says Van Horn.

This deal could mean job growth in the Nelson technology sector. Van Horn explains that it is important for SMRT1 to source local software development talent, like from Selkirk college's Geographical Information System and software technology programs. 

"We definitely anticipate expanding our team within the next year or so," says Van Horn.

UpMeals recently announced a partnership with Simon Fraser University to provide students with access to healthy food options with the smart vending SMRT1 POD as an alternative to costly meal delivery services starting in September. 

This news calls into question the future viability of college and university cafeteria-style food service.