You have a smartphone, a tablet, and/or an ereader. You even own a GPS. Perhaps you also own a connected fitness watch or a Wi-Fi-enabled security system. If this describes you, you’re well on your way to becoming a connected-device junky. If you also buy from vending machines, enjoy cheap movie rentals, or plan on purchasing a gift card in the near future, your connected world is about to get even bigger.
Verizon Wireless, www.verizonwireless.com, has partnered with Redbox, www.redbox.com, (a wholly owned subsidiary of Coinstar, www.coinstarinc.com) to give you more options in video entertainment. Now, when you’re looking for a new-release DVD, Blu-ray, or video game, you can do so at one of the 35,400 networked Redbox kiosks, or you can take advantage the new on-demand streaming and download service supported by Verizon’s network.
Now that so many of us have devices at our disposal, we crave content. And not surprisingly, we want it on demand. The idea is to leverage wireless, connected technologies to provide the best consumer experience, whether by remotely managing physical self-service kiosks, or, in this case, by offering new digital services. Verizon says we should expect the new service later this year.
Another connected-kiosk experience to look forward to comes from OpenMotion, www.openmotion.com. The company is offering a revolutionary way to purchase gift cards.
Imagine walking into a retail store and being able to create a custom gift card, with any denomination, design, and message you want. This is exactly what we’ll get thanks to the ConnectNow custom gift-card kiosks. By allowing consumers to purchase and print gift cards on demand, the companies hope to bring the retail experience up a notch or two by leveraging M2M technology and innovative thinking.
OpenMotion’s solution relies on M2M technology from RACO Wireless, www.racowireless.com, which offers the RACO OMS (Omega Management Suite) platform for SIM (subscriber identification module) management. OMS not only provides the means to seamlessly activate and maintain SIMs, it gives retailers visibility into billing, reporting, and alerting capabilities. For instance, a kiosk’s owners or operators might choose to receive an alert when the machine reaches a certain threshold—RACO’s platform enables this and more.
Likewise, vending machines are becoming increasingly connected, and, thanks to M2M, many of these machines are communicating with their owners and operators better than ever before. Companies such as Cantaloupe Systems, www.cantaloupesys.com, provide solutions that turn “dumb” machines into “smart” ones. A smart vending machine knows when its inventory is low or when it requires maintenance, and can do something about it.
A similar vending solution, ePort Connect powered by USA Technologies, www.usatech.com, enables cashless payments and telemetry services. With realtime visibility into their machines, owners and operators can receive alerts when attention is needed.
Both M2M solutions help keep vending machines well stocked, so you never have to settle on a bag of peanuts when you really want cookies. This may not be of life-altering importance, but it certainly adds to the level of convenience, comfort—and yes, connectivity—that we have come to expect in a connected world.
At the end of the day, the core value-add for M2M is to help you make better decisions by providing realtime data and increased visibility. For businesses, this technology is invaluable. It can add to your all-important bottomline. And now, it’s becoming invaluable (and inescapable) in our personal lives, too.