Could your coffee communicate?


It just might if new technologies take off….

Stood in line at the local coffee house you are stood, patiently, waiting to order your favourite drink and your eyes begin to wander. Towards the display counter they go and soon you are gazing at a collection of sandwiches, pastries and other baked good. Your eyes dart away before returning, captivated like the moth to the proverbial flame. But your thought process gets interrupted as your phone buzzes; ‘it’s probably for the best’ you think. After all, you need to be back at work in fifteen minutes. You reach into your pocket as you shuffle forwards, barista in sight and you read the message on your phone.

‘Would you like a slice of cake with you coffee? Get selected goods from the bakery half-price with any hot drink!’

A scene like this may be common place sooner than we think.

iBeacon, created by Apple, allows retailers to send automated tailored messages to customer’s smartphones when they are in a specified vicinity. Working through a precise location tracking system, the application will allow shops to target potential purchasers when they are in a prime place to part with their cash.

Eat has agreed the first trial use of iBeacon, using a system devised by Weve, which is supported by a number of the United Kingdom’s largest mobile telecommunication groups. Other food and clothing retailers are set to try the software out too in the coming weeks and months.

It could be heading to a coffee shop near you.

The technology came to the fore during the Super Bowl when fans in attendance at MetLife Stadium began to see notifications filter through to their smartphones, informing them about special offers and events. That was soon followed up by the announcement that another American sporting institution, the MLB, would be adopting the idea going forward.

So how does a cake/coffee/biscuit/inanimate object talk?

Sensors detect where a phone is using the latest advancements in Bluetooth technology which means that retailers can track people as they wander through their stores.

Sure to raise concerns about privacy, users will have to first download an application and then choose to share information in order to be on the receiving end of these tailored notifications.

But for retailers it strikes as a great idea to monitor and tailor specific offers, especially if it could be linked with reward schemes.


photo: Johanl (flickr), used under creative commons

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