Free Wi-Fi is on its way to some Japanese vending machines. Working much like a mobile hotspot at your local coffee shop, people located near the machines would be able to connect to the internet for 30 minutes at a time and surf the web.

The vending machines are for the drink company Asahi. Connecting to the web using a machine can be done without any kind of log-in, and if your initial 30-minute connection to the network expires, you can connect again and keep on surfing. The service is available to anyone, to use with any smartphone, tablet, or computer and does not require the purchase of a drink from the machine.

Why vending machine hotspots? Free internet hotspots in the country are few and far between due in part to Japan's early adoption of mobile broadband, which led to a lack of free Wi-Fi locations. Now that tablets and smartphones have taken off, there's a growing need for Wi-Fi. While there are a few hotspots at places like McDonalds, the vending machines would allow people to get connected in more areas.

Asahi has plans to roll out 1,000 of the internet-connected vending machines in 2012, with plans to expand that number to 10,000 by the end of 2017.

Source: The Verge