Technology! Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. And the latest item to get the ‘smart’ treatment is the humble bottle. Yes, you read that right – the bottle.

Technological company ThinFilm Electronics has teamed up with drinks giant, Diageo, to produce a bottle that can tell you far more about your Cognac (or whisky, gin, vodka etc.) than the label ever could.

smart bottle smart phone

It might sound like something from a science fiction novel, but the gap between sci-fi and 21st century life is getting ever smaller. Imagine a bottle that can tell you if it’s ever been opened, or show you a video about the grape harvest or an interview with a cellar master? Pretty cool, huh!

So how does it work? Well, tiny computer chips are to be printed on labels and tags, and the information contained on these can then be read using a smartphone app. In addition, personalized communications can be sent by Diageo to consumers via the app.

The potential for Diageo (and others who will inevitably copy or purchase the technology) is virtually limitless. Can you imagine the advantage of purchasing a bottle that can tell you everything about the contents it holds? Tasting notes, cocktail recipes, the history of the Cognac house – that’s only the tip of the iceberg as to what the bottle could tell you.

Smart bottle technology, which is hidden under the label

The bottle is the brainchild of Diageo Technology Ventures, an experimental technical and experimental company owned by Diageo. They teamed up with Thinfilm in Oslo, Norway who used their ‘OpenSense’ technology to create the chips that can be printed on tags that can be attached to the bottles. These don’t need a battery as they work using radio frequency communication.

Thinfilm are confident that this will be a real alternative to the QR code. Unlike these, the OpenSense tags can’t be electrically modified or copied. It can detect if the bottle is still sealed or has been opened – a real boon with the amount of fakes on the market.

And it’s not expensive. In fact, using this technology costs a mere 10 cents (US) per bottle. The tag can also be read at every stage of the supply chain, allowing retailers to be able to track each individual bottle right up to the point of purchase. And today, in our ever-increasing world of worrying about the authenticity of products we purchase, it adds another layer of security.


You won’t have to wait long to get a look at these tags yourself, as they go into production later on this year. Let’s see how quickly they integrate themselves into the market. Although we have to say, you can’t beat a beautifully crafted Cognac label – and the older the better – adorning the front of your favorite bottle of Cognac. Perhaps we’re being a little nostalgic…


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Jacki has been with Cognac Expert from virtually the beginning. She's the senior editor of the blog, and has spent much of her life living in rural France. Today she's based back in the UK, where she splits her working life between writing for Cognac Expert and working as a Paramedic at a large regional hospital.

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