June 1st, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Swap-O-Matic: A vending machine for bartering with just about anything

By Laura Ly, Special to CNN

New York (CNN) - On any given day, the vending machine at Ample Hills Creamery in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, may offer anything from books to original artwork to toys.  If you see something you want, however, no need to take out your wallet.  The ‘Swap-O-Matic’ vending machine allows you to swap and trade items, rather than buy them.

“The Swap-O-Matic recognizes that there is a thrill in getting things.  The vending machine satisfies our desires for instant gratification, but it co-ops it and re-appropriates it to something that is a more sustainable method of acquisition, which is through swapping and trading,” said Lina Fenequito, the creator and primary designer of the ‘Swap-O-Matic.’

Fenequito wanted to call attention to issues of overconsumption and needless waste and aimed to find a creative way to encourage trading and reusing.  For her senior thesis project at Parsons School of Design, she built an earlier, low-tech model.  In August 2011, with the help of visual designer Ray Mancini and electrical engineer Rick Cassidy, Fenequito built upon her thesis project and created a machine with touchscreen capability and digital locks.

To use the machine, one simply has to enter their e-mail address on the screen and choose whether they would like to donate, receive, or swap an item.  Since none of the items in the machine is assigned a value, all item transactions work on a credit system. As a new user, you’re given three credits to begin with.  A credit is earned each time you donate an item and it costs one credit to receive something.  Swapping an item in the machine for something that you’ve brought doesn’t require any credits.  Anything that fits into the machine can be swapped and traded.

“There have been a few personal items like some original artwork and handwritten poems [swapped in the machine.]  And there’s been some kind of oddball items, like there was a jar of Miracle Whip in there, and so that was kind of funny,” said Fenequito.

The primary inspiration for the project came from Fenequito’s parents, who taught her the importance of recycling and reusing.  Her experience working with “Youth Creating Change”, an AmeriCorps program, after her college graduation also affected her views on local, community sustainability.  So far, she’s gotten positive feedback from people as far away as Brazil, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Italy.  Ultimately, she hopes the Swap-O-Matic inspires a movement of people to reconsider their consumption habits and to share their items every day.

Fenequito and her team are currently working on a new ‘Swap-O-Matic’ model that engages with social media technology and features an updated touchscreen interface.  They are considering more locations for the newer version and hope to debut the next machine this fall.

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Filed under: Art • Crowdsourcing • Culture • Design • Innovation • Tech • The Next List • Thinkers
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  6. Kevin


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    Have a good day,


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  20. Neil

    In my neighborhood in Brooklyn we already have "swapomatics" all over the place. If you have some books or clothes or CDs that you don't want anymore you simply put them out on your stoop and anyone passing by is welcome to help themselves. I've picked up books and records that way. I've also gotten rid of tons of things that I didn't need or want anymore without the guilty wasteful feeling of throwing perfectly good things in the trash.

    June 5, 2012 at 11:01 am | Reply
  21. Also Brandon

    Brandon, just give up the debate. The people who are arguing with you aren't going to understand what you're explaining to them. You started with an iPad. You could have started with the phone as the most valuable item in the machine. You could have started with a book. You could have started with a torn shoe sole. The fact of the matter is that people, generally speaking, are not altruists, and will not give more than they receive from this machine (unless they're simply being charitable, in which case they'll claim it on their taxes in April in order to get money for the donation). There's a reason bartering isn't done at an unmanned table at a flea market. It's done face to face so the people involved can negotiate the values of their items before exchanging them. The machine assumes that there's no intrinsic value to anything, and that any one item equals any other one item. In my estimation, it would take a very short number of visits to this machine before it's full of nothing but crap nobody wants. That said, it's still an interesting experiment to see just what it would end up with at the end of the day.

    June 4, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Reply
    • Dave Kaye

      I think what you mean is "Americans are not altruists." And I agree with Brandon to the extent that he's right if you're talking about putting this in a Mall. But there's no reason to believe this couldn't work in some places or in a smaller segment of society. If, for instance, you put this in a small neighborhood where everyone knows everyone else and used it to trade something with low utility and high turnover (baby clothes) there would be no incentive to steal or trade down.

      June 5, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Reply
      • Brandon

        In a closely knit community, why even bother putting in a machine? For the $10K that would go towards purchasing the machine, you could buy baby clothes for the entire community and still have money left over. It just seems like a total waste of money for something that could be done so much easier. If you are close to your neighbors, why not just trade with them personally? It has the same effect as the machine, but without the $10K investment.

        I guess the point is, it COULD hypothetically work assuming the best case scenario, but for $10K? Why? You can do the same thing for free. This isn't a profitable business model, an effective product, or a meaningful contribution to society! It is a waste of space that is trying to build hype over nothing substantial.

        June 5, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
      • Brandon 2

        No, Dave, what I meant was what I said. People. Globally. Universally. "People." Can you really sit there and tell me no other countries have cultures that behave as I've suggested patrons to this machine would? You might be able to find some backwoods tribe in Upper Slobovia where everyone takes total care of everyone and nobody gets left out; but not in the vast majority of human societies. The reason this machine will not work is the same reason communism won't work. People look out for themselves. Having a culture and a rule of law has thrown a huge monkey wrench into the natural order. People are "better" than other animals because they supposedly abide by these laws; but each and every one of us is battling billions of years of DNA programming that tells us to look out for ourselves and to heck with the other guy.

        June 5, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  22. SAY WHAT?

    "Video Will Play in 1:30"?????? Are you serious? CNN, Have you lost your mind??? I Want to Swap this BS for some common sense.

    June 4, 2012 at 10:37 am | Reply
  23. SusanBarwick

    The response to this in the comments are strange. I could see using this in places where say scrapbookers would share, home school parents could exchange items. This would work great in the many small towns where people have to travel to purchases items. Item/subject/hobby specific would be interesting, but think there should be a small charge for using the machine to keep people from just taking. Ex., in small hometown I lived in – a hairdresser was also a scrap book company rep...she could place the machine in her backroom for scrapping supplies that others want to share and everyone in town would know about it.. that is how small towns operate you know.

    June 4, 2012 at 10:27 am | Reply
  24. oh please

    dumb idea
    Wait till I put in a bag of Dog SHeeeeet......

    June 4, 2012 at 12:49 am | Reply
  25. John E

    I have to say that I am impressed! When I think about all of the special places on Earth where bartering has been eliminated by mass consumerism and trendy technology, I am apt to get into using this machine just as I would purchase a 25 cent cup of hot chocolate or coffee with sweetener and evaporated milk, also from a vending machine! I miss the old days, friends! The woman who is designing this has got something really worthwhile going for her!

    June 4, 2012 at 12:40 am | Reply
  26. BeavisandBonehead

    I am not sure if you dont understand the concept of bartering, or you hate the barter machine...
    as to the machine, i can see issues. sadly, the honor system never was very successful.
    as to bartering itself, its a fine idea, and its pretty hard to beat with fake currency.

    June 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Reply
    • Brandon

      Obviously I understand bartering. It is something of the past, and for a good reason. It is obvious that YOU do not understand bartering if you fail to see the issue with this machine.

      This is why bartering is no longer the standard for markets:
      Say, for instance, that I make blueberry pies for a living. You, on the other hand, grow carrots. I am interested in trading for some of your carrots. Lets say that an equal trade is 4 carrots for a blueberry pie. However, you don't want a blueberry pie. This creates a problem because even though I have the resources to trade for your four carrots, you don't want to trade with me.

      By introducing currency, we create a method by which I can always purchase your carrots regardless of your desire for my blueberry pie, because there will be others who buy my blueberry pie in exchange for money that can be used to purchase other items, and you will always take my currency as payment because you can use it for other things. That is why bartering has been replaced with currency in order to create efficient markets.

      This machine takes bartering and cripples it even further. In standard bartering, it is possible to create equal trades by finding the least common multiple between two items. With this machine, it is a straight, one for one swap. Generally speaking, this promotes trades of unequal value.

      And what is "fake currency" supposed to mean? The United States has moderate levels of inflation and our money system is holding up just fine. Even with our deficit, American's shouldn't be worried about the value of our dollar. You think bartering is "hard to beat"? Why the hell do you think that we have been using money since 1862?

      June 4, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Reply
      • JPowers

        I have a penny dated 1799. Is it fake brandon?

        June 5, 2012 at 7:50 am |
      • Outside the Box

        As soon as you use currency, Uncle Sam gets involved. Bartering is good for the environment and it's an important skill that is lost. Currency is used to make transactions easier, true. With current technology, finding someone to trade with is no longer a barrier. Let the government and the rich keep their fingers out of my personal transactions.

        June 5, 2012 at 10:51 am |
      • Brandon

        1862 marked the date when paper money was introduced. Coins were used earlier, but were not easy to transport. Paper money was very portable and easier to use than coins. All that you are trying to do is point out a meaningless "error" in my argument that has nothing to do with the general idea of what I'm saying. Maybe I should have clarified that I was speaking about paper money rather than coins, but you are detracting from my main argument.

        Obviously your penny isn't fake. Do you have a dollar bill from 1799? I didn't think so. The point I am making is that we have been using currency for a long time.

        June 5, 2012 at 10:56 am |
      • Brandon

        @Outside the Box: I didn't know that hippies owned computers!

        June 5, 2012 at 11:02 am |
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      April 9, 2013 at 11:49 pm | Reply
  28. arcangelw7

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    June 3, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Reply
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      June 3, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  29. American Patriot

    I love it. They should be in every community.

    June 3, 2012 at 11:20 am | Reply
  30. Montyhp

    At University Hospital in San Antonio, a person leases a certain number of scrub sets. When your scrubs are dirty, you take them to one of several VENDING MACHINES, located around the hospital. Once you insert your old set (verified optically by the machine), you are allowed to open a door to get a new set.

    I guess it is not such a new idea after all.

    June 3, 2012 at 10:20 am | Reply
    • Allen

      Do you seriously think putting dirty laundry in a hamper to get new laundry beat this machine to the punch?

      June 3, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Reply
      • Jess

        Well, this person IS from san antonio... expectations should be low

        June 4, 2012 at 9:45 am |
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        Hello,i am afraid I just have bohugt a sewing machine like yours.I got it from a friend; who is as lost as I am!Would you mind sharing, if possible a copy of your instructive (if any)I don't even know the model of my machine, but it looks quite alike yours.looking forward to your kind responseThanks,Karen da Silva, from Juarez Mexico

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    • SusanBarwick

      That is an interesting machine. Bet it has saved the hospital money and can see whey they have one for employees to use.

      June 4, 2012 at 10:33 am | Reply
  31. Luke

    You preach conservation and question consumerism. However, you built a machine that runs using a coal furnace made with plastics and metals. You could have just set up a table and said, "swap."

    You devalue a college education.

    June 3, 2012 at 9:08 am | Reply
    • Tyler

      If she had put items on a table and a sign with the rules, people would simply take what they wanted and not return items to the machine. Not only can the machine monitor swaps, but it looks flashy, which will attract people and accomplish her goal of inspiring people.

      June 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Reply
      • Mark

        Ditto everything Tyler said. Also, where did you get the notion that this thing runs on a coal furnace? I'm assuming it's electric, so the coal you refer to is a coal power plant? That has little to do with this device, which would use the same electricity if the city made the move to wind, solar, or nuclear power.

        June 3, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
      • Patrick

        Since there is no way to value whatever type of crap people put in the machine (ie a hand-written poem!?), this machine does no more to thwart short-changers as does a table. Don't even need a table, really... I see people put their unwanted crap on the curbside every day, and if someone else wants it, they take it. Don't need a machine for that.

        June 4, 2012 at 4:29 am |
    • Jeb

      Likely, a table used for swapping would be made out of what? You guessed it? Plastics and metals. By the offchance it is made out of wood, well, poor tree and poor next tree that will eventually have to be used to replace the other wood table. No one devalues a college education. Except yours. That is, if you have one. Now I'm off to work on my corncob from nether regions removal device.

      June 3, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Reply
    • An IT Guy

      Until someone swaps the table with a bag of doggy doo-doo.

      June 5, 2012 at 9:37 am | Reply
  32. bradlarochelle

    interesting and original. i think the concept may work with a few variations, but i like the originality and the feel good and give back ideals. the business plan would have to work into marketing, as it has here for "Ample Creamery".
    people who see this as a retail venture have missed the mark completely, this is a marketing unit.
    nicely done, from a vending machine innovator – brad@blinktees.com

    June 3, 2012 at 7:56 am | Reply
  33. ME


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  34. Kent Mills

    What is amazing, based on the comments posted here, is that we have bred a society that not only overvalues the capitalistic, conservative approach to living, but seeks to vehemently denigrate any other approach. I am a scientist by education and a small business owner by profession, but I clearly see the value of design, beyond function, and worth, beyond money. Sad indeed.

    June 3, 2012 at 7:20 am | Reply
    • BeavisandBonehead

      are you serious, with that pedantic pschyobabble?
      I too, am a college graduate and a small business owner, but i do not smoke my own product.

      not to you kent, but to CNN, um this is really old news, these machines have been around for well over a year.

      June 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  35. Joe

    Do they have a wife swap-o-matic?

    June 3, 2012 at 6:31 am | Reply
  36. Lok

    Americorps is just welfare and should be scrapped.

    June 3, 2012 at 1:40 am | Reply
  37. 1337ryan

    Art schools should be banished and Art shouldn't be allowed as a major, maybe allowed as a minor. Arts should be encouraged, but too many parents are still stuck a in "fridge material" mindset when it comes to what their kid does. I have friends who are artists, but they went to college for a skill set that's marketable and they make money doing that. Art is a hobby. As with any other hobby, if you get good enough at it THEN you can start making money with it. Hey parents, just because your kid listens to cello musics, screams and throws paint at a canvas doesn't mean their an artist.

    June 3, 2012 at 1:07 am | Reply
    • Tsuto

      While I do agree some modern art is pretty ridiculous, you can't just write off art education entirely. People who go to art school don't just do it so they can fling paint at a canvas. There are wide varieties of professions with good pay for people with the proper skills. Scientific and technical artists, illustrators, architectural artists, 3d and 2d animators, special effects artists, marketing designers. There are plenty of real jobs that give merit to art as a degree

      June 3, 2012 at 1:28 am | Reply
    • Corinna

      The EARTH without ART is just EH.

      June 3, 2012 at 2:02 am | Reply
    • Taron

      I couldn't disagree with you more. As an art major I have had incredible opportunities so far and I'm only a freshman. If you love something you do enough YOU can make it worth money and profit from it. Art is vital.

      June 3, 2012 at 2:51 am | Reply
      • Taron

        *I'm a sculpture student in the #1 program in the nation!

        June 3, 2012 at 2:55 am |
      • That Guy

        @Taron My problem is that art won't help anyone like STEM and teaching careers will.

        June 3, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • moose

      A world without art or design would be same thing as people just planting corn in there yard instead of flowers corn makes more sense and is usable but what a boring world Being creative should be rewarded its the mother of invention should we just have 1 car design everyone drive the best fuel economy car with just a grey primer coating after all the paint is just for show.

      June 3, 2012 at 2:56 am | Reply
      • moose

        ps she made national news have you ever done that and comments don't count

        June 3, 2012 at 3:01 am |
      • BeavisandBonehead

        maybe you should try using more corn in your art. its a pretty bright yellow, and has a green hull. quite attractive and functional too

        June 3, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • QQmore

      Someone is butt hurt! Ouchies.

      June 3, 2012 at 4:13 am | Reply
    • jessejayallen@gmail.com

      So, I can't pay for school myself and major in Art? Why do you think it's called a "Degree of Arts?" This comment made my blood curdle...

      June 3, 2012 at 7:19 am | Reply
  38. The Flamingo Kid

    Totally RETARDED, people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is a Parsons School of Design graduate!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pathetic.

    June 3, 2012 at 12:43 am | Reply
    • 1337ryan

      Don't worry, art school kids have their parents' money to fall back on. That's why they were allowed to follow a dream that turns into nothing. I've sen it happen countless times. If I told my mom that I wanted to go to an art school she wouldn't have allowed me to. Thanks mom!

      June 3, 2012 at 1:01 am | Reply
      • rmtaks

        Who cares. Better to follow a crazy dream until reality sets in than be someone who works a 9-5 from day one and thinks it makes them matter in any way whatsoever.

        June 3, 2012 at 1:11 am |
      • 1337ryan

        No, it really isn't. That's the storybook way to think of things. People need to understand reality. I did and I love what I do because I thought to myself "what will I have fun doing and support me?" Not just "what do I want to do?" I'd be an airplane right now if I followed that. I don't want to kill dreams, but people need to be realistic about them. This person won't make a living off a bartering machine.

        June 3, 2012 at 1:23 am |
      • miller

        So because you're not talented enough to follow your dreams, then others aren't talented enough either? The assumption that parents are paying for 'art' education is ludicrous and not based in any kind of reality. Have you seen how much American students owe in student loans? Very few parents have the wealth to send ANY kid to ANY school these days and those who do are generally sending their kids to Ivy League schools, not art schools.

        It's laughable how many people are trying to demonize art as a career. Sounds like a bunch of jealous, washed up artists who didn't have the talent to make it happen. Plenty of people do and plenty of people make WAY more creating and selling art than they would make working for a modern day corporation, where they pay you half a person's wages to do the job of 3 people.

        Art encourages critical thinking skills...something you clearly could sharpen up on a bit. Maybe it's not too late for you. If you find out your local community college courses aren't working out for you, maybe you could look into a real art school and let them tell you how bad you are without having mommy's hand to hold.

        June 3, 2012 at 3:18 am |
      • Aprtopaz

        Wow, sounds like you had an awful mother. Any good parent would help and encourage their child to follow their dreams.

        Also, the whole "art students have their parents' money to fall back on"? Really? That may have been the case for you, but most college students don't have rich parents, no matter what their degree was in. I sense a little resentment there- you should go listento some music to relax. Oh wait, that's right- people probably shouldn't be studying music either since that's a form of art, so I guess you don't even listen to music...

        June 3, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
      • WhyAssume?

        What makes you assume that this is all this innovator is doing with her life? maybe if you looked and did some research, you would expand your mind and not make such arrogant and false assumptions all while placing your foot in your mouth.

        June 3, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  39. 4sustainability

    This machine is so indicative of what may be coming of near future. The era of unsustainable infinite pursuit of profit by enterprises may be coming to the end. Why our money has to go all the way to China to buy something we need, when goods can be recycled? And almost all new products (including food) are made by using oil, which is getting more expensive each day, while oil companies are making record profit... If we put focus on local economy more by using bartering, recycling, our world will be sustainable and balanced for the future of our children and all lives on the earth. But, for this to happen, everybody on the earth has to think this is important in their own ways, I think education for all people on the earth would become so important than ever for the coming years.

    June 2, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Reply
    • David1958

      Right, so everyone is suppose to carry a bunch of junk around all day to 'swap' for stuff they want/need? Lol. I was just getting use to the idea of using a debit card for all my purchases instead of carrying cash and a pocket full of change.

      June 3, 2012 at 12:23 am | Reply
    • puckles


      June 3, 2012 at 12:44 am | Reply
    • Different point of View

      lol, wake up. Who ever is feeding you that crap is just protecting you from the real world.Bartering? We used to barter but guess what, we switched to currencies cus its better, you should go look at some history and really learn where money came from "not where its made". Also whats wrong with China getting our money? Why do we need to keep all of our money is the USA? Just because the man on the TV tells us to? Do you realize that we actually help poor people when buy stuff from China and India. Look at the average American, an ungrateful fat slob which has no idea how easy they and lucky they have it because they were born in the USA. Socialism doesn't doesn't work look at Greece.

      June 3, 2012 at 1:20 am | Reply
      • Corinna

        Hmmm, you don't see the problem with China controlling the majority of US currency.... ok then.

        June 3, 2012 at 2:05 am |
      • 4sustainability

        You are right, old style of bartering is unusable, but how about bartering using internet, or using virtual local currency, it would be quite convenient... My point was to promote local economy as much as we can for sustainability and to maintain balance of all lives without destroying environments. I am not against buying goods from outside if those goods are not available locally.

        June 3, 2012 at 2:47 am |
      • 4sustainability

        One more thing, I am not really into socialism, I think the industrial revolution age, Adam Smith style of capitalism is not working anymore today, our capitalism needs an upgrade, it would be nice if capitalism is modified from only the pursuit of the self-interests to something that considers both self-interests and the good of others.

        June 3, 2012 at 3:07 am |
      • BeavisandBonehead

        actually currency is an outmoded concept. you might want to read more about it.
        here is your pun of the day, "carrying the weight of debt"
        now tell me again how much more convenient currency is....barter is coming back,
        and sooner than you think, like it or not. Im not sure the machine will be there though.

        June 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Corinna


      June 3, 2012 at 2:03 am | Reply
  40. KM

    OK, so this chick will eventually work for some whiny non-profit organization. Probably one that distributes ice cubes to native Alaskans (moderator, I cleaned that one up).

    June 2, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Reply
    • Dave

      Your priorities are a bit messed up.

      June 2, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Reply
    • rmtaks

      the only funny thing is that you think you will accomplish more in the grand scheme of things.

      June 3, 2012 at 1:07 am | Reply
  41. KM

    This girl's parents (or someone) wasted a whole lot of money on her pseudo-education.

    June 2, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Reply
  42. Rob

    This would make more sense as a web site where you send something for credits and you can use those credits to buy something else.

    June 2, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Reply
    • Sounds Familiar

      Hmm... Now where have I heard this idea before? Oh that's right – money.

      June 5, 2012 at 8:01 am | Reply
  43. Matt

    Love it! Did I mention I love it!

    June 2, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Reply
  44. WD

    I think this could be a great idea if they fine tune it. For example, swapping books or DVD's by scanning a barcode.

    June 2, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Reply
    • Rob

      That could work..

      June 2, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Reply
    • KMDAB

      that's called the "local library."

      June 2, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Reply
      • BillC


        June 3, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • RenB

      You should check out http://www.paperbackswap.com and its sister site.... http://www.swapadvd.com...

      June 3, 2012 at 1:07 am | Reply
  45. longtooth

    It'll never work. We're all doomed. People suck. Or, maybe, just maybe, it's an interesting idea!

    June 2, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Reply
  46. Brian Smith

    That music really bites.

    June 2, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Reply
  47. Rick

    FYI, buying = trading.

    June 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Reply
    • Brandon

      FYI – money was made to make the barter system more efficient. Different items have different values. Money equates the two.

      June 2, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Reply
      • BeavisandBonehead

        incorrect brandon.
        currency represents work/product. it is not the work/labor/product itself.
        according to your logic, credit cards are equal to the product i purchase with them
        that is not so. money represents an item, barter is the real deal.

        June 3, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
      • Brandon

        Are you stupid? Money equates the two THROUGH representation. Do you not buy things every day with money? The system works!

        What are you, a neanderthal?

        June 4, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
      • Brandon

        Your knowledge of the role of money in society is pathetic at best. I'm done arguing with you @BeavisandBonehead.

        June 4, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • BRUCE


      June 2, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Reply
  48. anon

    neat idea..it's like a garage sale w/out money.

    June 2, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  49. Jonboy

    Two weeks of "trading" and those machines are going to be little monuments to greed. Little compartments filled with boogers and notes that say "thanks a lot sucker!"

    June 1, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Reply
    • Arthurrr

      kind of cynical aren't you. i guess someone crushed your dream long ago. sorry for that...i hope you get another one....soon.

      June 2, 2012 at 12:14 am | Reply
      • Klaas Jan

        Your naïveté is quite adorable. He is spot on, people are greedy by nature.

        June 2, 2012 at 1:47 am |
      • WaitWhat?

        Klass Jan not everyone is dishonest, but thanks for being honest about your own greed. Just don't assume we are all like you.

        June 2, 2012 at 9:26 am |
      • CJ Topspin

        Yeah. This WILL be abused. Plian and simple. No, not everyone is a thief...but if one out of 100 are...that one will find every single one of these machines and steal.

        June 2, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
      • Rob

        People are honest when other people are looking.

        June 2, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
      • BillC

        How are they going to get the liberals to leave something of value?

        June 3, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • AndyDaniel

      I don't think so. Remember that people aren't going to leave things of real value to themselves hoping to return and find an object of equal or greater value. They will leave things that they would otherwise throw out but may have value to someone else, so the "machine" will attract people who think the same way.

      Craigslist has a category called "Craigslist Free" for giving away items. I "sell" stuff for $0 all the time. Recently I gave away a slightly damaged large jetted tub for free. My options were to spend $50 on the repair part and then try to find a buyer at maybe $100 while this giant object took up my driveway for weeks, or pay someone $50 to take it to the dump plus about $50 in dump fees, or give it away, which took seriously 1 hour from original posting to item picked up by a happy new owner. Even if I had no desire to help someone out or to keep something out of the landfill, this would have been financially the right decision.

      June 2, 2012 at 8:58 am | Reply
    • PantyRaid

      Johnnyboy is right on the money!

      June 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Reply
  50. maizeman

    Excellent, I know where to take those used condoms to now ..

    June 1, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Reply
    • Joe

      Doesn't your boyfriend save those?

      June 1, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Reply
  51. Mark

    This is a great idea, but it's going to be important that they pick the right communities to place these things

    June 1, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Reply
    • josh

      Yeah cause low income communities wont know to work it? Only rich people know how to give?

      June 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Reply
      • dave836

        Sounds neat. I mean, it's obviously just something to put in small stores (like the creamery in the video) where shop keepers can see if anyone is trying to take everything.

        It's not something they just put out on the street and hope for the best...

        June 2, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
      • Mark

        No, I didn't mean it like that. In fact, I think poorer communities are where this system can bring the most value. For the rich it would be a fun novelty, whereas for the poor it can be a way to connect ones means to ones needs without money in the exchange.

        The thing I'm concerned about is people just taking things from the system repeatedly without donating back. I don't know what metric you'd need to track to find a place where this would be minimized (maybe low crime rates?), but that's my concern.

        June 3, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
      • BeavisandBonehead

        i do not even understand that post. what the heck are you failing to say????

        June 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  52. Utopidiot

    Typical lefty, namby-pampy, feel good, useless, utopia clap trap.

    June 1, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Reply
    • Poe

      Ahh, Poe's Law in action

      June 1, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Reply
    • Padraig

      Quite typical namby pamp. I have never seen anything more typical as far as namby pamp goes. Not to mention the clap trap. Thanks for steering us right, Utopidiot. Nice handle by the way. Clever. Silly ignorant coward.

      June 2, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Reply
    • jon

      Ha!.. spot on.. leftist and their solutions to the world's problems

      June 2, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Reply
      • Ivan

        Not at all. The leftist answer is to shoot the bankers and see if the rest of the pigs get in line after that.

        June 2, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  53. mattski

    hmm. Looks a little bit like a Gatherer's Garden.

    June 1, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Reply
  54. larissapickens

    I love it! Just wish there were one near me. For those of you interested in supporting it, I googled and they are doing a Kickstarter campaign:

    June 1, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Reply
    • Lok

      who would donate money to this worthless project? Lol.

      June 3, 2012 at 1:44 am | Reply
      • BeavisandBonehead

        i would.

        June 3, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  55. Thomas

    a wonderful idea! my intial thought of what to 🙂 stock in from end would be handcrafted flowers maded from materials.. then you can have like couples come up and "hey, this would be really cool to give to my girlfriend/boyfriend" :))

    this has potential, though not sure how the $ works out for it, it truely is novel! :))


    thomas 🙂

    June 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Reply
    • Thomas

      a vending machine that dispenses flowers! DOH! einstein thomas just stumbled into another one

      duuude! :))))))))))))

      June 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Reply
  56. Christie

    Love the idea.I had a pawnshop once.When will the machine be in operation?

    June 1, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Reply
    • WaitWhat?

      You could either READ the last sentence, GOOGLE it or get a personal secretary to fill in your gaps.

      June 1, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Reply
  57. Ryan in Texas

    Bartering is the greatest way to get out of sales tax.
    Let me make sure you understand the premise. I can trade a dollar bill for you dollar bill and no sale has occurred.
    That is not disputable.
    So then I can trade a yellow mustang matchbox car for your red mustand matchbox car and no sale has occurred. As long as the items are of even value, a trade or swap isn't a sale.
    Now expand that to other goods and services. An Air-conditioning guy can swap services or goods with a plumber and as long as the value is equal – then no sale has occurred.
    This drives the state's with sales tax nuts, but they can't do much about it.
    Now anything in excess that is paid for is taxable. So are the materials that were tax deffered, since when they got them wholesale they avoided the tax (of course the plumber might just get parts somewhere where they already pay retail taxes).
    There are actual barter networks here. It might not sound like it is worth it, but on $2000 worth of labor barter, taxes can be $165 each way, or $330 total. Obviously it won't take over most transactions. But if you are going to do the work anyway, it's free money. Like most tax avoidance strategies it has the cost of inconvienience. Hey, GE spends alot of money not to have to pay taxes!
    Oh, and there is only one service in Texas that isn't taxable: Legal Fees.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Reply
    • Mark


      June 2, 2012 at 9:59 am | Reply
    • IRS

      Ryan, get ready to go to jail, bartering is taxable.

      June 2, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Reply
      • Mango

        When you trade in a car at dealership and trade in has exact value of car you are buying ... you pay zero sales tax. That is bartering and its legal to not pay taxes in this manner.

        June 3, 2012 at 8:58 am |
      • BeavisandBonehead

        how? capital gains? items of equal vale....
        you fail.

        June 3, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  58. Ironslimjim

    Well. This is stupid.

    June 1, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Reply
    • Chris

      Au contraire, mon cher. It's a damn cliver idea. Yay for you, Lina!

      June 1, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Reply
  59. Tricia

    I Love this idea! It has nothing to do with money. One person's trash is another person's treasure. It takes recycling to another whole level. It would be better if you can't even see what you're trading for. Let karma take over in what you should receive.

    "Worthless items in the machine"? Let's say you are a writer, with writers' block. Then, say, you trade something for a folded up piece of paper. Then when you open the paper and read the beautiful poem, you suddenly get the ending to your story. And that is priceless!

    June 1, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Reply
    • Brandon

      "Then when you open the paper and read the beautiful poem, you suddenly get the ending to your story. And that is priceless!"

      Yay for plagarism!

      As I have explained in my previous comment, it is a wonderful idea in a hypothetical scenario. Unfortunately it is too easy to exploit. "Anything that fits into the machine can be swapped and traded." What is stopping someone from putting rocks in the machine and getting all of the other valuable items? It needs some kind of quality control or a valuation of the item and credits awarded based on the valuation in order to work effectively.

      June 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Reply
    • Aicirt

      I'll put some used condoms in there, I'm sure you could use a few of those couldn't you?

      June 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Reply
      • Jay

        How about used chewing gum? I'm sure there's a trading market for that!

        Hahaha. Talking seriously, if someone uses his/her conscience it could be alot of fun to use this machine.

        June 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • lrhughes

      all your miracle whip are belong to us

      June 1, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Reply
      • Jello Pudding Pop

        Hahahaha...that was the funniest thing I've read all day...perfect

        June 2, 2012 at 1:38 am |
  60. Obvious

    It looks like the machine is designed to be trust-based.
    The way the girl in the film just opened the door, took something and put something back makes me wonder. They're going to trust people with what you want to swap. but what about the people who don't put anything back? It looks more like a temptation machine than a swapping machine.

    June 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Reply
    • Ali

      Joe, I am so glad that you enjoyed your trip to Splash Kingdom with your fnierd, Colby. I bet the water felt really cool on your skin in the hot sun yesterday!

      August 19, 2012 at 9:41 am | Reply
  61. owen techman

    like ebay in your pda...? wireless mesh and zigbee aprs!..... about to get an erection!

    as for the pos tax.... as long as the flouridated masses keep reproducing under your tree it shouldnt matter?

    this keyboard on this netbook... the keys keep coming off... i am missing thee keys aleady... you want to talk taxes? lets talk keyboads first!... then we can talk about the e.d. brainwashing ... shakedowns.... genocide.... drug laws... etc...

    yah... lost my erection! about to lose these computers and these internetS.... aleady ditched the prison phone!

    June 1, 2012 at 11:48 am | Reply
    • owen techman

      to space and beyond!

      June 1, 2012 at 11:50 am | Reply
      • owen techman

        these people with staring poblems........ . you wanna check out my ip local?

        dizzy yet?

        June 1, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Aicirt

      who uses a PDA anymore? You should use Old Techman instead of owen

      June 1, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Reply
  62. rad666

    Tax man is watching.

    June 1, 2012 at 10:52 am | Reply
  63. Robert Platt Bell

    A cute gag, but a real product? How does the person running the machine make money?

    And if I "donate" a jar of Miracle Whip, can I then "swap" this for a used iPad? They are worth about the same.

    Money is one of the oldest inventions of mankind, and it does have its uses – for example, in assigning values to items and allowing us to "swap" one thing for another, and also convert chattels into a more portable form, which may be stored and transmitted, across the planet.

    I am not sure a bartering machine is an advancement. But it is a cute gag, anyway.

    June 1, 2012 at 10:38 am | Reply
    • Liz in Dallas

      It's not a business model, but it's not a gag either.

      Think of it as an art project – it's meant to inspire thought and interaction.

      June 1, 2012 at 10:51 am | Reply
      • Brandon

        Robert Platt Bell's point is that without a currency or valuation for each product, the endgame result is a bunch of worthless items in the machine.

        Using his example of the iPad:

        First person comes along with a used nokia phone. They swap it out for the iPad because they realize the value of the iPad is higher than their phone. A second person comes along with a pen. They realize that the phone is worth more than the pen, so they trade. The third person comes along with a piece of paper. They realize that the pen is worth more than the piece of paper, so they trade.

        In supermarkets, you shop for the items with the best prices for their quality, correct? Sure, it is possible for someone to put an item of greater value (monetary) in the machine to trade, but this will not be true for the majority of swaps. I know that I wouldn't put something of greater value in only to be compensated with a cheaper product.

        It is a cool idea, but not functional in the long run. It doesn't inspire thought and interaction. It leads to a lower quality selection of products in the machine over time which defeats the purpose of the project. I can tell you right now that if I saw one of these machines, I would put the object in with the lowest value in my possession and trade it for the highest valued item in the machine. This is human nature.

        June 1, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
      • James

        @Brandon, I think you missed a few keywords during the video. She said "The value of an item is assigned based on the need of the person" not unnecessary desire or greed according to your example. Why would I want an iPad to trade with my Nokia phone, when it's obvious you can't make call with iPad and I need my phone to make phone calls or send text message? Of course, you can argue that you can simply sell the iPad and get 20 Nokia phones, but I honestly don't think that was the point of the machine.

        I can also imagine situation where I'd be glad to trade my Nokia phone for a pen and a piece of paper. Just because something has more value, doesn't mean that it is more useful to a person in need. Oh and don't blame it on "human nature", it's more of your nature.

        June 1, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
      • Brandon


        "The value of an item is assigned based on the need of the person" implies that the person defines the value rather than a regulated system of equalizing value. I don't think that I missed anything. This is a trust-based system and I am merely stating that this can be easily exploited. To call this a non-issue with the system is ignorant.

        "Just because something has more value, doesn't mean that it is more useful to a person in need."
        More value = more monetary value = ability to purchase more things

        I am not debating the sentimental value of some items. It is human nature to maximize value. You are a fool if you argue otherwise. The components of value include both monetary and sentimental value. This is why it is possible for people looking for items with a high allocation to sentimental value to get meaningful items. However, people who desire monetary value more will be maximizing their value by taking high monetary value items in return for low monetary value items, which don't necessarily have sentimental value.

        The result is a trade which has decreased the total value of the objects in the machine. Do you understand this? People have varying desires for sentimental vs monetary valuation. A Homeless person would likely want something of higher monetary value that they could then pawn off to get money to pay for their food. Those less in need of monetary value will lean more to the side of sentimental value.

        If I trade an iPad for a pen, I am lowering both the monetary and sentimental value of the item in the box. This is the point that I am trying to make.

        June 1, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
      • bill


        So in your example, why is there no mention of how the iPad got in there to begin with? There will be people who put more valuable items (in US Dollars) into the machine in exchange for less. This principal is in play every time someone spends $15 at the theatre for a large popcorn and soda. Convenience, location, mood, desire, rarity, spontaneity, etc., all these things will balance it out. There are going to be plenty of people putting all sorts of things in there just for the heck of it.

        I see the basic logic of the example, and in the context it is presented I agree with it completely. But the iPad would never be there if someone hadn't put it in there, and you can't swing the argument the other way by saying the iPad was put in there to get a free car out of it, or whatever, because eventually it becomes as absurd and improbable as the notion you put forth.

        But I'm the type of person who'd use a credit to take the rock out and throw it away, just to open the door for someone else to donate something and keep the ball rolling. Fortunately for those others who feel that way, you don't sound like the type of person who'd ever make visiting the machines worthwhile, and so your avoidance of the process actually improves the overall quality of the experience.

        June 1, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
      • Brandon


        For every person that puts in an iPad out of generosity, there will be 1,000 other people who trade something of lesser value for it.

        Good for you being such a noble person and donating such expensive items. I will be happy to enjoy them at no cost to myself. I never said that I would avoid the process. Actually, I will profit off of this silly machine. So go ahead and put your expensive items in. Your treasures will be much appreciated 🙂

        It doesn't have to be an iPad. I just used it to make my point painfully obvious, which I still don't think that you are understanding. The machine is stocked with items at the start, is it not? Those items likely have some monetary value. Even in the case of a machine not being stocked, any items put in will likely have some monetary value as well unless every box holds a hand scribbled poem or a rock. Because of this, every item has the same potential as the iPad (just on a smaller scale).

        Whenever there is monetary value in an item, that item can be exchanged for real money. With that real money, other things can be purchased. Therefore, getting the item for free and selling it for money is essentially free. Therefore, there is room for arbitrage in which one basically gets free money.

        So, stock the machine up Bill! But don't get mad when you come back the next day and it is filled with worthless items. But go ahead, use some of your credits to take out the rocks and put more fancy items in. I will continue the process indefinitely. Call me selfish, but you are providing me the means to legally take your donated property!

        Don't bother trying to ban me from using the machines, as I am perfectly in compliance with the way that they work. I just need to trade something that fits in the box!

        If you still fail to see the issue I think that there is something wrong with your logical process. I just explained how I could indefinitely exploit you for resources. But please, continue to argue with my logic. I will gratefully accept your donations.

        June 1, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
      • NAW

        Hey guys, you do understand this is a hipster thing? Most of the items would be the same thing you would not pay a dollar for at a yard sale.

        June 2, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
      • Lok

        Obviously more than just an 'art project', sinc donations are being solicited,

        June 3, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • Squidgal

      Here is one way it could money. The machines are rented to businesses. The businesses would host them because they could potentially bring in new customers or increase visits by existing customers thereby increasing revenues.

      June 2, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Reply
      • Lok

        Of course the machine will also attract thieves, so I'm thinking it would be a hard sell.

        June 3, 2012 at 1:47 am |
      • Steve O

        I think you may have missed the point.

        June 4, 2012 at 11:51 am |

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