Behold, the NFC-enabled smart whisky bottle

Sure, drinking too much Scotch can dull your wits, but if you can’t tolerate dumbness from the bottle itself, then here’s one for you. Thanks to the latest in flexible electronics, the smart whisky bottle will now be a thing.

On Wednesday, the drinks giant [company]Diageo[/company] and the Norwegian printed electronics firm [company]Thinfilm[/company] announced a prototype connected bottle for Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky that will have a range of features enabled by Thinfilm’s new OpenSense NFC tags. The internet-of-things identity and authentication firm Evrythng is tying things together in its cloud (Evrythng has a partnership with Thinfilm). The bottle will be shown off at Mobile World Congress next week.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky bottle with Thinfilm OpenSense NFC tag
Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky bottle with Thinfilm OpenSense NFC tag underneath label
The features are largely stock control and anti-counterfeiting measures – the tags will make it possible to track the bottles and see with a tap of a smartphone whether the bottle’s seal has been broken, and one of Thinfilm’s big selling points is that its smart labels are pretty much impossible to copy or modify.

However, there’s also a marketing aspect to all this. Customers will be able to tap the tag, which is discreetly stuck underneath the label at the back of the bottle’s neck, with their NFC-enabled smartphone in order to get “personalized” messages. These messages will be contextual – if they tap the bottle in the store, it may trigger a promotional offer; once bought, it may offer up cocktail recipes or other content.

“Our collaboration with Thinfilm allows us to explore all the amazing new possibilities enabled by smart bottles for consumers, retailers and our own business, and it sets the bar for technology innovation in the drinks industry,” Diageo Futures Team global innovation director Helen Michels boasted in a statement. Meanwhile, Thinfilm CEO Davor Sutija noted that this sort of customizable marketing functionality wouldn’t be possible with conventional NFC tags, which aren’t integrated with sensors in this way.

It is certainly true that advances in printed and flexible electronics will change the nature of everyday product packaging, because the technology is now at the point where it’s becoming very cheap to implement — when Thinfilm recently partnered with Xerox on the production of printed memory labels, it said it expected to manufacture a billion of the things each year.

So in the coming years, expect produce packaging that can tell you when the contents are going off, blister packs that can point out how many pills have been popped, and yes, smart booze bottles that suggest appropriate mixers. It’s a brave new world.

This story was updated on 26 February to include a mention of Evrythng’s involvement.