To design a vending machine that vends an intangible object, utilizing a digital screen and physical form.


Outpour, a clean water donation vending machine where a physical valve is used to determine specify the amount to be donated.

Two week experiment for Interaction Design Studio Course

Katie Herzog, Chen Ni

Adobe After Effects, Illustrator, Photoshop, XD, Sketch

Key Features

  • Examined the play between digital screens and physical forms
  • Transforming a traditional vending experience to encompass less tangible forms

The Concept

The aims of this project were to devise a vending machine that vends something intangible and to explore the interplay between a digital screen and the physical form.

How do you vend something intangible?

Our team discussed this question at length. Would could this be? A feeling, a service, an idea? This could encompass everything and yet nothing. We had to narrow our focus.

We decided to explore the idea of vending good will through donation.

After exploring an idea of donating food that didn’t quite pan out (it was too large for the scope of this project) we settled on the idea of donating clean water to those in need.

So how do you design a way of donating water that encourages generosity and returns positive feedback to the user? Can’t we just go online and make a donation to a charity of our choice?


  • Vending machine is placed in high traffic areas where it will receive a high amount of visibility
  • User will insert credit card into a physical knob and turn to donate water
  • Like an actual valve, the amount of water that pours through will be calculated to determine the amount of the donation
  • The digital display will show a cumulative amount of water throughout a given period of time. With the goal being to fill the vessel, each user’s contribution will slowly add water, and the digital display will show more water accordingly

January 7, 2018