Jun 10, 2015

Smart Liquor? Johnnie Walker Embraces the IoT

Just when you thought the Internet of Things (IoT) couldn’t get any cooler, it has found its way into the world of fine liquor. Yes, the IoT is now being paired with Johnnie Walker’s premium Blue Label Scotch whisky, among the finest and most expensive whisky blends in the world.

Diageo, the British alcoholic beverages company that produces Johnnie Walker, debuted its new smart bottle at Mobile World Congress this year, causing—pun intended—quite a stir. The smart bottle is outfitted with a printed sensor tag that can detect whether the bottle is properly sealed, and whisky drinkers can use their mobile phones to read the tag.

The printed tags have other applications as well. Each has a unique identifier that makes it extremely difficult to create and distribute imitation products on the black market. Eventually, these sensors may even be used on perishable food items to detect if, at any point during transport or storage, they have been exposed to high temperatures. These potential use cases and others are rapidly turning printed sensors into an emerging market, one that research firm IDTechEx projects will be worth more than $8 billion by 2025.

Admittedly, on the surface, the idea of a smart bottle seems a little far out there. But if you think about it from a customer satisfaction and experience standpoint, it makes perfect sense. Johnnie Walker Blue Label sells for as much as $300 per bottle in some places. It is a high-end product typically reserved for special occasions and Scotch aficionados. With the smart bottle technology, consumers who are spending a lot of money for a select product can rest assured they are toasting with the genuine beverage. In other words, Diageo is leveraging smart technology to marry a service differentiator with its premium product.

The smart bottle is certainly a fun novelty, but it represents just a fraction of the impact the IoT will have on various aspects of our lives in the coming years. For instance, several companies are in the process of developing smart pill bottles equipped with LTE connectivity. These bottles can send patients text message reminders to take their medication, improving patient adherence rates and potentially reducing the number of medical emergencies and hospital visits.

Whether we are talking about smart liquor or pill bottles, it is truly remarkable to see the breadth of IoT devices and applications coming onto the market today. In many cases, the technology seems almost futuristic but it is, in fact, already beginning to impact the world around us. Over the years and decades to come, we are bound to see countless more incredible innovations – with LTE at the core of these devices.

We’ll drink to that.