Vending machine offers tea for tweets

The ice tea vending machine The vending machine offers free tea in response to a certain hashtag

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A vending machine that gives customers iced tea in return for tweets has been installed in Cape Town, South Africa.

Launched by South African soft drinks company BOS Ice Tea, the vending machine is called Bev.

To receive a free sample of BOS Ice Tea, users need to tweet a certain hashtag, the # symbol commonly used on micro-blogging service Twitter to identify topics.

The drink is made from Rooibos, a local plant used to make traditional tea.

To make the machine respond to tweets, its developers configured a specific hashtag as a filter.

When the hashtag appears on Twitter, the vending machine checks it and - if correct - gives out a drink.

The tweet is then displayed on a screen on the front panel of the machine.

Users can also follow Bev on Twitter, and become friends with it on Facebook as well.

There is no partnership with Twitter. The micro-blogging service told the BBC that it would not comment on the initiative.

Social media possibilities

Although there is only one such machine for now, it will soon go on a tour around South Africa, to "interact physically with as many people as possible", BOS co-founder Grant Rushmere told the BBC.

"We use sampling extensively to promote our product," he said.

"Our goal, while sampling, is to create fun, interactive and inspiring environments to do so."

Twitter's popularity in South Africa was growing, said Mr Rushmere, and the project would demonstrate the creative ways to use social media.

"Bev the vending machine is just one example of many different ways we do this.

"If a giraffe on a bicycle gives you a BOS Ice Tea one day, you will see what I mean."

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