Cup o’ Joe to Go

Posted by Ken Lynch on Thu, Oct 14, 2010 @ 11:26 AM

RFID and Coffee Drinkers Unite to Cut Waste and Time

Smugs RFID mugWhen you think about how many cups of coffee a week the average person buys at a Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks, that’s a lot of paper cups being thrown out. The majority of coffee consumers seem to opt out of splurging on the fancy mugs the Java houses sell, including yours truly. So, how else can we possibly cut down on that coffee to-go waste?  Unless they’re in Italy or another European country that takes its coffee breaks seriously, people are going to have a tough time staying put for their morning coffee in order to help the environment.

But maybe we won’t need to change our lifestyles to save the environment from zillions of plastic and paper cups.

Ever hear of Smugs? They are reusable Smart Mugs embedded with RFID chips. A Marquette University student, Chris Hallberg came up with the idea to let people use their own Smug, fill ‘er up and walk out of the coffee shop without paying. So, it saves waste and time. And who isn’t in a hurry when getting coffee on the go?

The Smugs use a high-frequency 13.56 MHz circular RFID tag with a Mifare chip designed to store ID numbers. The unique tags are connected to a Smuger’s account in the shop’s back-end database. The accounts are front-loaded by the customers with the amount they choose. An RFID reader is placed on the shop’s wall and also connected to the accounts in the database. When the customer leaves the shop, voila, the coffee is paid for.  

As if saving time and cutting down on waste weren’t enough, this innovative idea also lends itself to customized service – which we’ve seen before in this blog. Because a customer’s name and previous coffee orders are stored in the tag, a coffee shop employee can ask he should serve up a mocha latte, double espresso, non-fat as usual.

We understand that Hallberg has another invention in the works. Hopefully RFID is involved.

Tags: RFID, Retail, Waste Management

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