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OK, so we don't have a flying car yet, but this is possibly even better: The Internet of Beer
Killer IoT app finally arrives: Keg-tracking tech to tackle light-fingered miscreants
Forget all those interminable IoT gadgets gathering dust in the drawers of the world. Brewers may soon be able to breathe easier after signing up to what we're going to call the Internet of Beer.
The keg-tracking tech has arrived as the UK's publicans have been given the green light to open up their outdoor spaces and brewers look forward to sating the thirst of drinkers, bottled up at home these past few months.
The lifting of beer kegs (even when empty) by miscreants is a problem for the industry. Even a keg drained dry by drinkers can be worth £50 or more and the supplier of the tech, Smarter Technologies, highlighted the recent theft of more than £2,000 worth from Arundel Brewery.
The theft represented a third of the brewers' kegs and came on the eve of the easing of lockdown restrictions.
A shame – Arundel Brewery is not a million miles from this writer, and the company's beers are delightful. The thought of pubs potentially running dry for want of some keg-tracking technology is horrifying indeed.
To be fair, the tech itself is not exactly revolutionary. Smart trackers have turned up in all manner of industries over the years, from being stashed in shipments of medication that must be maintained at a certain temperature to being attached to crates of fish, freshly trawled from the sea.
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While there has been the a bit of flirtation with the likes of RFID in kegs (Keg Hounds being an example of the breed) and the odd crowdfunder, the integrated tech on offer is intriguing.
"The device and software provide real time location, temperature, humidity, tilt," a spokesperson told The Register, although we'd have to add the proviso that Smarter Technologies' web site says its tags report every two minutes when static and every 30 seconds when in motion.
The batteries powering the devices should last 10 years, according to the spokesperson and data is taken care of by the Orion Data Network, a long-range, low-power asset tracking network. "It's the world's first fully end-to-end Internet of Things (IoT) low-power radio network solution," enthused the spokesperson, "with coverage up to ten miles. Comparative technologies, such as Bluetooth (10 metres) [and] Wi-Fi (100 metres) don’t get quite stack up."
We've seen tracking solutions that make use of cellular networks for data pings, as well as triangulation (when GPS is not available) and onboard storage where connectivity is weak. However, such devices tend to carry somewhat of price premium when compared to the £50 or so cost of an empty keg.
"The benefit to businesses," added the spokesperson, "is that it could save you up to 75 per cent compared to the cost of comparative technologies."
Exactly what those costs are was not disclosed.
Still, the asset trackers themselves are apparently built into the keg and "distinctly difficult to identify or remove."
"An alert is triggered if tampered with," added the spokesperson.
The IoT hype wagon continues to rumble on. However, we can take some small crumb of comfort as we look forward to a well-earned Friday pint: its delivery might be secured thanks to the Internet of Beer.
And, at the end of the day, what more can one ask of our industry? ®