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Starbucks puts Bucks in connecting machines

Menno van Doorn
November 01, 2013

UntitledStarbucks has invested for over half a million dollar in connected coffee machines. It’s one of those trivial data points in our research that helps to build the case that Internet of Things is arriving. There’s more traction, organisations are speeding up their IoT innovations and Starbucks web machines are part of that story. The coffee machine has been part of the IoT-narrative for many many years. Even before people only started talking about connecting the fridge, the coffee machine was already connected. At least in a certain way. The first ever webcam in the world was a coffee machine watcher. Installed in the so called Trojan Room of the Computer Laboratory of the University of Cambridge, people could surf the net and see the pot. More than two million people watched the web-machine, and it was daily visited by a thousand people. This all happened exactly 20 years ago, November 1993.Here’s the breaking news from the BBC. Go to 1 minute 10 to watch the item. This was about us watching the machine. Starbucks machine has no webcam. Instead it is watching itself, and it might even be watching you. Freshness and product quality seems to be the driver for ROI. Since Starbucks also has a loyalty card, and it already knows a lot about the consumer, it’s not clear whether the web-machines will also deliver better customer information. Starbucks has bought 500 of the $ 11.000 web-based brewing machines and has plans to increase the numbers dramatically. It also plans to start connecting other devices like refrigerators that can tell whether the milk has run bad. According to Bloomberg Starbucks is one of the leading companies to take advantage of mass-adoption of the internet of things.

About the author

Director and Trend Analyst VINT | Netherlands
Menno is Director of the Sogeti Research Institute for the Analysis of New Technology (VINT). He mixes personal life experiences with the findings of the 19 years of research done at the VINT Research Institute. Menno has co-authored many books on the impact of new technology on business and society.


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