Wine Vending Machines Are the Reason You've Been Saving All That Loose Change

Due to longstanding and elaborate liquor laws, it is not particularly easy to buy booze in Pennsylvania. But now the state's trying to make it a little bit easier—with ID-swiping, breathalyzer-sporting wine bottle vending machines.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board recently introduced the hulking kiosks in two grocery stores as part of a pilot program, hoping to alleviate some of the headaches that come with buying booze in the state. But what exactly does buying wine from a machine entail? AP explains:

The machines are about the size of four large refrigerators, though the wines are kept at room temperature. An ATM-type device sits at one end.

A customer chooses a wine on a touch-screen display, swipes an ID, blows into an alcohol sensor (no contact with the machine is required) and looks into a surveillance camera. A state employee in Harrisburg remotely approves the sale after verifying the buyer matches the photo ID.

State officials say the process takes 20 seconds. The kiosks only take credit or debit cards, and they're closed on Sundays and holidays. A "convenience fee" of $1 would be added after the pilot phase

Sounds simple enough, though some store owners are concerned that the machines bring a Big Brother element to the process of buying a bottle. That, and you have to wonder how easy these things will really be, once the machine's beep beep beeping at you to swipe and smile and blow and make your selection all at the same time. As someone who's still figuring out that whole self-checkout thing, this all seems a bit much. [Yahoo! via Gawker]