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In RF Veritas: Wine, Wireless and “Lovers’ Cups”

Recently, I read an article where a Boston Back Bay seafood restaurant’s guests were getting a kick out of the”Wine Skipper”: 12-inch touch screen device with Wi-Fi enabled that is used in conjunction with a hard copy of the restaurant’s wine list. http://www.celebrate-wine.com/50226711/computer_picks_your_wine.phpThe system’s high-speed connection to the internet allows users to access not only the websites of every winery on the list, but also reviews, descriptions and pairing suggestions for every label. The goal was to informationalize the wine selection process for patrons, table-side, including reviews of boutique wineries, including some in my neck of the woods, the Livermore Valley of Northern California. More significantly, it can make any wine layperson sound like Robert Parker through a few taps on a screen.This story made me remember some other “wine and wireless” experiences I have had or noted over the past few years.Although not technically a real-time wireless service, in 2000, Wine.Com launched a channel on the AvantGo Mobile Internet Service. This provided users with a platform to purchase wine during wired or wireless synchronization. It started modestly with several dozen wines from around the world and included tasting notes from noted experts (now, how do I get a job like this). At the time, then Wine.Com CEO Bill Newlands noted this application as an example of how”cutting-edge technology can change the 4,000 year-old wine business.” A few years afterwards, one vineyard owner, Don King, used wireless sensors to coax 30,000 plants to grow grapes of exactly the right color, size and sweetness to produce great ice wine and other fine vintages…with the help of judicious watering, a knowledge of the age-old art of viniculture. The electronic sensors were linked together in a wireless network using an Intel-based TinyOS and TinyDB, allowing the multiple sensing devices to monitor grape micro climates and help determine irrigation and frost patterns. Around the same time, in Washington, D.C., Schneiders of Capitol Hill pioneered the world’s first wireless wine shop with a Phoenix, Ariz.-based restaurant industry interface. TasteNtalk provided the technology to allowe the inventory from Schneider’s 7,500-square-foot wine cellar to be available for buyers with Web-enabled wireless phones. The service has subsequently morphed into a more general online wireless service for restaurant ordering.Last year the IntelliScanner Corporation introduced the Wine Collector 150, a personal handheld barcode scanner with included wine management software for Mac OS X and Windows. By simply scanning the retail bar code found on a bottle of the wine with the USB or Bluetooth wireless IntelliScanner barcode reader, the system then downloads the name, varietal, winery, country, type, color, and region, in a computer database. The technology offering provides: -- Personal wine inventory management:- Access to a 62,000 wine databaseAnd finally, earlier this year, two researchers at the MIT Media Lab have developed a set of Wi-Fi Wine glases that incorporate a variety of coloured LEDs, liquid sensors and wireless (GPRS or Wi-Fi) links into a pair of glass tumblers allowing long-distance sweethearts to share some intimacy with vino even when they are not together in the same room or even the same continent. http://web.media.mit.edu/~jackylee/cups.htm When either person picks up the one of the so-called “lovers’ cups,”red LEDs on their partner’s glass glow gently. And when either puts the glass to their lips, sensors make white LEDs on the rim of the other glass glow brightly, so you can tell when your other half takes a sip. I don’t know about you, but wireless and wine makes me feel warm all over (and that has little to do with the fact that 2.4Ghz is the same frequency as a microwave oven). Time to meander over to the cellar.

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