Coffee, Doughnuts, and the Internet of Things

Grab a cup of joe and meet a potential new member of the Internet of Things.  Although they’re not yet WiFi-enabled, Keurig 2.0 coffee makers feature design evolutions in user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) that imply Wi-Fi connectivity may be inevitable.

Both UX and UI are increasingly important. So much so that consulting firms, including Deloitte and IBM, have accessorized themselves with marketing and advertising agencies — hoping, in part, to improve what users experience in the front-end (design and navigational logic of apps and websites) to the back-end systems they’ve developed for years. UX and UI designs are also key to the success of the Internet of Things.

What’s with the Tone?

Keurig 2.0 units communicate though a small, mono, backlit touchscreen. And in the darkness of the night, they shine brighter than the subtle LED displays from other kitchen appliances. Frig? 38 degrees — check. Dishwasher? Green light — time to unload. But the Keurig? “More water please.” One has to ask, why the please? The first Keurig units were all business and featured a simple, no-nonsense “add water” light. “More water please” comes across as pushy, assumptive, and even a little smug.

The Exclusive Club

Keurig 2.0 units now only accept licensed QR-coded K-Cups. Sure, there’s a large circle of K-Cup friends who’ve hopped onboard the pay-to-play train, but the whole approach seems to run counter to the culture of coffee drinking. Coffee represents a break — a time to share, think, and get recharged. It’s impressive how Keurig’s innovative approach has allowed it to carve a big chunk out of the BUNN-style, shared-pot market model. While many a drinker may miss the communal elements of waiting for a pot to finish brewing, including the post-pour chat, most seem to have accepted the real-time, on-demand approach to coffee.

Where is This Going?

Even though Keurig 2.0 units are not yet network connected, they’re clearly smart enough to read QR codes on K-cups. Considering JAB bought Keurig in December 2015 for $13.9B and, five months later, bought Krispy Kreme for $1.3B, digital messaging through Keurig machines can’t be too far off. Think, “A Krispy Kreme with your coffee please.” Not so much as a polite question or a suggestion, but rather a command.

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