Despite growing popularity in the shadier parts of the internet, the anonymous, peer-to-peer currency Bitcoin has yet to break into the mainstream — but a new effort by German art student Max Albrecht may help to raise its profile. As a project for his university's summer exhibition, Albrecht has built a vending machine that converts €1 coins (about $1.20) into their equivalent Bitcoin value, currently around 0.15 BTC.

When a coin is inserted, the machine issues a printed receipt with a temporary EasyWallet.org link, from which customers can transfer their cash to anyone else with a Bitcoin wallet. Discussing his contraption on the Bitcointalk forum, Albrecht reveals plans to add reverse functionality to future versions, allowing users to convert their hard-earned Bitcoins back into real, physical Euros. Of course, given the current state of the European economy, they may be better off sticking with the virtual currency.