Need a COVID test? Look for a vending machine


Test kits start at $130 and users can get results in 15 minutes.

Image: Anna_Kolesnikova/istockphotos

A digital health company and a retail automation platform are providing COVID-19 tests via vending machines so people who need a test can get one quickly.

Wellness 4 Humanity is planning to deploy the first machine mid-January at Oakland International Airport. The company is planning to place additional machines in locations throughout New York, Texas, and Ohio. Test kits will range from $130 to $150.

Lian Nguyen Pham, CEO and co-founder of Wellness 4 Humanity, said in a press release that the vending machines will provide easier access to fast and accurate tests.

“We’ve seen similar vending machines placed in highly populated, highly trafficked areas of Hong Kong and the United Kingdom to help contain the spread of the virus and, given the surge in cases the US is currently experiencing, we hope to roll out our vending machines as soon as possible,” Pham said.

Pavel Stuchlik, co-founder of Wellness 4 Humanity, said that the biggest challenge with the project has been keeping up with FDA updates.

“Especially with new antigen that is now coming on the market, regulations get stricter every day,” he said.    

Stuchlik said that Wellness 4 Humanity is testing the vending machines in 25 locations ranging from groceries to airports. 

“After that we will do another 100 and then our main goal is 1,000 in all uses,” he said. “We will have corporate locations but also buildings or companies can hire our vending machines for their personal use.”

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The vending machines will sell two types of tests—the TRUSTPASS Rapid Antigen At-Home Test KIt and the At-Home Saliva RT-PCT test. The antigen test returns results in 15 minutes with no lab required. Customers who use the saliva test return the sample to a lab via FedEx and get results via a TRUSTPASS app. The app also offers contract tracing and other patient follow-up services.

The University of California at San Diego just installed test vending machines at 10 locations around campus, as Charlie Osborne reported on ZDNet. Students use their school ID to get a free test and return the swab from self-administered tests to a drop box next to the machines. The school plans to install up to 20 machines in laundry rooms, lobbies, and near restaurants.

Automation and contactless payments expand testing access

Wellness 4 Humanity is working with Swyft to develop these unattended, contactless COVID-19 test kiosks. Lincoln Smith, president and co-founder of the retail automation company, said that the machines are ready to be deployed in strategic locations.

“Healthy travelers are concerned they may catch coronavirus where they are traveling to, or have contracted the virus where they are traveling from, so we are placing these contactless kiosks in these transit locations,” he said.

In August 2020, the company installed vending machines that sell personal protective equipment (PPE) in 10 New York subway stations.

“Our unique cloud architecture allows us to service many use cases like Wellness 4 Humanity, while having machine learning power our operations,” Smith said.

Swyft’s other customers include CVS, Best Buy, and 7-Eleven. These companies use Swyft’s automated workflows and other services to provide unattended retail locations, such as vending machines and lockers where customers can pick up purchases.

Smith said that Swyft’s contactless solution is a good fit for dealing with a contagious virus. 

Customers shop via a web browser and pay at the kiosk. 

“Consumers select their products on their phone, swipe their card at the kiosk, take their products and go,” he said.

In addition to kiosks and lockers, Swyft provides cashierless stores that use sensors to power the shopping and payment processes. These unattended stores offer payment via facial recognition, app, credit card, cell phone, or room key. Swyft stores also use sensors and data collection points to track what is selling and what is not and the accompanying business intelligence platform analyses all the data collected.

In 2020, Wellness 4 Humanity provided on-site testing for Marriott, Zappos, and Orangetheory Fitness. These services include conducting temperature checks, providing COVID-19 tests, and issuing trust codes individuals can use to gain access to an event.

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