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Water in Heights

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Most everyday objects, such as this water bottle on a flight from Madrid to Helsinki, now contain at least a web address, a bar- or QR-code and a few recycling and certification markings. The web address invites me to know the supplier and their other products better, perhaps even suggesting to leave feedback on my watery experience.

The barcode contains the simple numeric EAN-code, which is unique for this class of products, and it is used primarily by the merchants at the cashiers to quickly obtain pricing information and print out an automatic receipt. But the code is not unique to this particular bottle – only on the side of the bottle there’s a rudimentary, dot-matrix printed ‘L.19-05-17 11:55’ which apparently means the best before date calculated from the bottling time and date. The EAN plus this gives me a specific group of products bottled on that one minute just before noon on May 17, 2015. I’d guess that the bottling machines spew out more than one bottle per minute.

Although Cabreiroa’s website is nice and works even with this patchy Internet access on the plane, I’m afraid I’m quite an exception to actually go and see it based on the marking on the bottle. I might even doubt whether they really invite me to interact; perhaps the web address is there just in case (very small print anyway).

While Cabreiroa fails to win my friendship and loyalty, things might be quite different in the near future. If the company is really up to knowing their customers, each bottle will have a unique identifier – and a spime – tracking the whole lifetime of the bottle from the production to my consumption. With my permission, the bottle could inform Cabreiroa through my smartphone, tablet or laptop that it is me who consumed the bottle, at the height of 11700 feet today, the water was served cold and was open for 18 minutes before it was empty. All this would contribute to the continuous Big Data analytics Cabreiroa would be doing in order to better serve the wholesaler, airline, the catering company and eventually me – the end-end-end-end customer. It is me who actually matters to Cabreiroa, although the current, legacy fire-and-forget, ineffective business model suggests otherwise.

This may sound slightly futuristic, but all the technologies are available and affordable today. The biggest challenge is the reliable, cost-effective, dynamic and evolving spime platform which can live in this airplane, ground data centers, the International Space Station and countless other locations, while ensuring that spime integrity is preserved at all times. This is why we’ve been crafting it for the last 15 years.

//Pasi

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