Cheers! Choose the right wine with Sommely IoT smart caps

Sommely smart wine caps use Intel Quark micro-controllers, LED lights, Bluetooth Low Energy, a mobile app and cloud analytics to select the right wine for a meal

Choosing the right wine for a meal takes both skill and a little luck. It’s an area where many wine drinkers could use some help.

Sommely wine caps help when a sommelier isn’t available.

This elegant IoT-based solution combines wine recommendations, inventory management and the ability to physically locate wine bottles. It addresses a need that’s common in managing other perishable inventories, such as:

  1. What is in the inventory?
  2. When are the items in inventory about to expire?
  3. Which items in the inventory best meet the demand?
  4. Where is the physical location of the items so that they can be easily retrieved?

Wine selection is a complex decision with dozens of wine varieties and thousands of brands. 

The challenge

1. The typical wine collection has more than 100 bottles, which are often labeled with stickers and managed with spreadsheets. What’s a better, easy-to-use and affordable approach to make the most of the wine?

2. Locating a wine bottle in a rack is often both time consuming and frustrating. How can this be simplified?

3. How can the wine selection process be streamlined to select the right wine pairing while taking into account the expiration dates of wines in the collection?

4. How can inventory levels be tracked so that more wine can be ordered when needed?

Sommely smart cap, wine selection, LED, SkilledAnalysts, Intel

Designing the solution

Uncorked Studios collaborated with experts at Intel to prototype the Sommely wine management system. Their design encompasses four major demands:

1. Find the bottle
A small detachable cap was designed to fit on a wine bottle. LEDs embedded in the cap light up when chosen, making it easy to spot bottles in a wine rack. The caps communicate via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to the gateway that uses an Intel NUC and Ubuntu Linux.

2. Maximize battery life
Wine bottles may be in storage for several months or years before being consumed, so power consumption is critical in the design. They have to run for months before requiring a recharge. Uncorked Studios chose the Intel Quark microcontroller D1000 for its extremely low-power consumption and affordability. The battery life of the caps is extended by using BLE and keeping the D1000 in standby mode until activated.

3. Optimize the communication
The Sommely caps communicate via BLE to an Intel NUC gateway that connects to the cloud. When a bottle is added to the collection, a user scans the label then puts the button on the cap; the cap will then be paired with the bottle.

From there, the mobile app connects to the gateway to pull information. The request is then routed to the cloud where a program makes wine recommendations based on the occasion (i.e., meal, time of year, event, etc.) and the wine that’s in the inventory. This selection is relayed back to the app, which in turn makes the LEDs in the cap(s) of the recommended wine bottles light up. Once a wine bottle has been used, the Sommely cap is recycled and used on another wine bottle.

4. Simplify the user interface
The joy of wine drinking is easily lost in the challenge of selecting and then finding the right wine bottle. Sommely has focused on the user interface of both the caps and mobile app to make it intuitive to use without distracting from the esthetics of a wine collection.

The cap serves as both an input and output device. A mobile app displays details on the wine bottle when a button on the cap is pushed. LEDs embedded in the cap light up when a wine bottle is selected by the recommendation engine, making it easy to locate.

Sommely smart cap, wine selection, Intel, SkilledAnalysts

Choosing your technology partner checklist

Selecting the right technology to base your IoT solution on is almost as hard as choosing wine, but with much more significant consequences. Uncorked Studios considered the following technical and business criteria before selecting selecting Intel Edison technology and the Intel Quark microcontroller D1000 for Sommely.

  • Form factor and bill of material costs
  • Power consumption
  • What networking protocols are supported (BLE, Wi-Fi)?
  • How broad a solution set is offered? (Sensor, edge device and gateway)?
  • How much help is available to prototype a solution?
  • What software development tool kits are offered? Are there open-source options?
  • How much training, technical documentation, developer community and FAQs are offered?
  • Is there an integrated cloud platform? Are different platforms supported?
  • What security provisions are offered?
  • What marketing resources are available to promote the product when it’s built?

Selecting the perfect wine pairing is always a challenge, but thanks to Sommely, even amateur wine enthusiasts now have a chance.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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