Pixie Labs loves wine and technology, so we were delighted to work on a project at the intersection of both.
Traditional wine preservation systems rely on card readers to let customers self-pour. The hardware is cutting edge, but the user experience hasn’t changed in a decade.
There is little room for vendors to differentiate based on user experience and personalisation driven by data was not possible.
By the Glass wanted to disrupt the market by creating more engaging touchpoint in the customer journey that both generated value for their customers and allowed them to capture rich data about their customers’ behaviour.
The overarching project vision was to place the ability to pour, rate and shop (for home delivery) at the customer’s fingertips.
The project had multiple goals: prove the technical feasibility, test the user-experience in a live environment and create a roadmap for how the product could be taken forward.
As R&D partner we were tasked with architecting and prototyping an integrated hardware and software solution that bridged the gap between the physical dispensers and a digital touchpoint.
We set up a test environment with By The Glass hardware and used that to build out the software stack. The dispensers communicate using a custom protocol over a CAN bus with custom wiring. We wrote custom low-level software from the ground up running on Linux to communicate over this protocol using inexpensive commodity hardware.
After proving we could communicate with the hardware from a Linux machine, we architected and built a second layer of abstraction which allowed real-time commands to be sent via a centralised message bus, down to an instance of the software anywhere in the world, which would then translate those messages and communicate directly with the dispensers.
Simultaneously, we built a web-based, modular user interface that used a simple per-site configuration to enable features depending on the hardware present on site, and the requirements of the site owner.
The result, Wine Cloud, is a hardware and software platform prototype that connects wine dispensers to customers via a mobile app and gives retailers complete control over the user experience and a direct relationship with their customers.
Every pour, rating and purchase is linked to a user profile, recording a wealth of information about the preferences and habits of the market, and creating unique upsell and cross-sell opportunities that last long after the first taste.
What happened to it?
WineCloud was demonstrated two years in a row a ProWein, the second-largest wine trade show in the world. Hundreds of winemakers, experts and buyers tried and loved Wine Cloud.
We also ran two experimental pop-up wine tasting bars using Wine Cloud, and the customer feedback was excellent.