A Force-powered vending machine

Promote the release of The Force Awakens by inviting fans to experience the Star Wars universe.


Project Overview

01: Challenge

  • Promote the release of the new Star Wars film – The Force Awakens.
  • Create an experience that allows fans to take part in the new saga.
  • Reignite passion for die hard fans who haven’t had a Star Wars feature film in ten years.
  • Engage fans who are seeing Star Wars in theaters for the first time.

02: Approach

  • Evaluated Star Wars’ brand essence to determine how to create an experience that would be unique to the franchise.
  • Determined that more than droids, lightsabers, and unforgettable characters, the Force is what makes Star Wars unique and enchanting to fans.
  • Concepted for experiences that would give fans the power of the Force.

03: Outcome

  • Created an integrated campaign that creates promotional content for Star Wars leading up to the release of the new film.
  • Built a vending machine that dispenses 3D-printed miniature Death Stars containing discount codes for official merchandise and theater concessions.
  • Designed an experience that connects fans to the brand in a tangible way.


To promote the release of The Force Awakens, the campaign will kick off on May the 4th, a Star Wars holiday, which is three days after the release of the Avengers: Age of Ultron, another Disney property. On the 4th, The Force Lift vending machine will be installed in strategically selected movie theaters in major metropolitan cities across the United States.

The machine dispenses 3D-printed miniature Death Stars that have discount codes inside for Official Star Wars merchandise and theater concessions. All fans have to do is use the Force to raise the Death Star. While fans interact with the machine, a camera inside the machine takes and posts pictures and videos of the interactions onto Star Wars Official channels using #ForceLift.

After the physical interactions with the machine in theaters, the campaign can then shift to digital. The content posted on the Official Star Wars channels and fans’ personal channels will drive fans to Star Wars’ website where fans can redeem their codes and find out what prizes they won. For a few lucky fans, they will win two tickets to the premiere of the movie.

As excitement and anticipation for the movie reach a climax, the campaign will end with a physical installation in Times Square three weeks before the release of the movie. A full-scale replica of the X-Wing will be set up on Black Friday, and using the same principle technology used in the vending machine, fans will be able to use the Force to lift the X-Wing and receive a prize.

A few fans will win premiere tickets to The Force Awakens. Most will receive discounts on Star Wars merchandise and popcorn at the theater. But all of them will experience the magic of Star Wars.

Design Decision

Although using the Force to move something is exciting, I wanted to add incentive by gamifying it. This is when I thought of a Force-powered vending machine. By including a reward element, the experience extends beyond just using the Force.

How it works

The vending machine works by having the user point his or her hand at the Death Star and concentrate on lifting it up. The hand triggers a servo inside the machine to begin lifting the Death Star, which is attached to an invisible string. Once the Death Star reaches a certain height, it drops down and the user retrieves it from the machine.

Inside the Death Star is a coupon code that the user scans with a smartphone to reveal a prize. It will either be a discount on concessions or a mystery prize. The mystery prize can be revealed on the Star Wars website. Here, the user will discover that his code is for a discount on Star Wars Official merchandise. A lucky few fans will discover that their code is for two tickets to the premiere of The Force Awakens.

Also on the site, fans can submit photos of themselves and choose to be a Jedi or a Sith. These photos will be edited to reflect their choice and can be reposted to the user’s social media channels.

Prototype Demo

  1. The user holds up his hand in front of a PING sensor.
  2. This triggers a servo to begin spinning, winding up a string that is attached to the Death Star canister.
  3. Once the Death Star reaches a certain height, it is detached from the string by two dowel rods.
  4. The Death Star drops down to the resting platform, triggering a switch that causes the servo to stop spinning.
  5. The user retrieves the Death Star from the machine and opens it to show where a discount code would be.





Design Decisions

  • Version 2.0 is taller so that the experience could be more drawn out.
  • Dowel rods and magnets made it so that I could get rid of one servo and one rocker switch from v.1.0. Magnets inside the Death Star attached to magnets glued onto the end of a string, which allowed the Death Star to lift into the air and detach from the string by the dowel rods.
  • Getting rid of the bottom servo allowed for me to have fewer holes in the back panel of the box. This prevented light from getting into the box and made the Death Star appear like it was floating.
  • Magnets glued to the inside of the Death Star’s two pieces made for a stronger canister.
  • Grooves made into the side panels allowed for the front panel to slide in and out. This made for a cleaner and more portable design.
  • A flap door helped seal the box by preventing light from shining into it. Additionally, the flap door contained the Death Star after it dropped.
  • A cutout in the ramp allowed me to combine the resting platform with the ramp by placing the rocker switch inside the cutout.



Squad: VCU Brandcenter

Kory Rozich

Experience Designer