Enterprising teenagers have been sneaking their parents’ booze and refilling it with water for ages. Yet few are brazen enough to break the seal on a new bottle of scotch that costs more than a month’s allowance. That’s probably why the target market for the new Thinfilm Electronics smart bottle isn’t paranoid parents but retailers and manufacturers who want to keep tabs on the liquor and ensure its authenticity all along the supply chain.
Diageo has a number of spirits brands under its umbrella, including Smirnoff, Don Julio, Captain Morgan, Tanqueray, and J&B. They also make Johnnie Walker Blue Label, which is the first of its liquors to get the smart bottle treatment from Thinfilm. It probably makes sense to start with a bottle of scotch that can cost several hundreds of dollars instead of, say, a $17 vodka, though the added technology only costs tens of cents extra, according to VentureBeat.
Here’s how it works: thin tag sensors distinguish between a sealed and open bottle and give off different signals accordingly. Smartphones using near-field communication can pick up on these signals and tell if the bottle’s seal is still entact. The radio signal powers the connection, so the tags are batteryless.
Of course, why put all this tech onto a bottle just for quality control when you can also target consumers? “The manufacturer can engage in a conversation with a consumer that is more meaningful,” Davor Sutija, Thinfilm’s chief executive, tells VentureBeat. When you take home your Blue Label bottle, the tag can also send promotions and other specialized information to your smartphone.
Frankly, we didn’t know we might not be getting the Real McCoy when it comes to our alcohol, but apparently it’s such a big problem in the U.K. that drink makers started putting a special dye in their booze that reacts with litmus paper, so patrons could ensure they weren’t potentially imbibing dangerous chemicals. Label us thankful this technology is on the way later this year.