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Techy IoT Malibu rum bottle will drive you to drink

Jay MacDonald

In the “Internet of things” (or IoT) world, every problem, however slight, is just one technological connection away from a solution. Our refrigerators remotely take inventory and purchase their own contents online. Our home security systems text us with updates while we’re away.

Now comes the unlikely – IoT blokes might say inevitable – technological solution to the dateless Saturday night: a rum bottle that befriends you, chats you up and even offers a friendly wager, all through the cuddly, close-to-you credit card solution of near-field communication, or NFC.

If all goes as the IoT nerd rangers at Malibu rum hope, the 40,000 NFC-tagged bottles they’re shipping to 1,600 Tesco retail stores in the U.K. over the coming months will do far more than merely speed your checkout – they’ll rescue you from one of the reasons we drink in the first place.

Tap your smartphone to the NFC tag and your Malibu bottle, not the bartender, will set you up with an evening of digital divertissement that its liquid contents could scarcely compete with. The technological flirtations that follow, all part of Malibu’s “Because Summer” promotion, include:

  • A guide to Malibu drink recipes
  • A map of nearby Malibu alfresco bars
  • Access to a summer playlist
  • A chance to instantly win UE Boom Bluetooth speakers
  • The opportunity to upload your photos to a “user-generated content” competition, with first prize being a one-week, all-inclusive vacay in Barbados.

What’s more, this cozy NFC companion is hardly shy; it takes over your phone, tells it exactly how to seduce you – and never unexpectedly disappears to the restroom.

Like you, I wondered the obvious: Wouldn’t all this NFC interference tend to kill the sale of Mai Tais, Mojitos, Cuba Libres, Zombies and daiquiris? I mean, the lad or lassie who’s drinking with their phone is drinking for one, am I right?

Apparently not. In the world of London-based SharpEnd, which started kicking this idea around last year with Absolut Vodka, an untagged bottle is an untapped bottle, at least where its marketing potential is concerned.

“By embracing suitable and scalable technologies onto our packaging, we can turn each bottle into a direct, digital touchpoint for consumers all across the world,” explains Markus Wulff, who heads up the Malibu date-a-bottle experiment.

SharpEnd founder Cameron Worth puts a finer point on it: “The connected bottle is a holistic channel once it links to web-based content.”

Yes! Of course! I didn’t appreciate the brilliance at first, but I do now.

Those lonely IoT chumps at the bar plan to drive us to drink!

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