Smartphones and tablets can be found in the hands of most people these days, a phenomenon that is likely to become increasingly widespread as more affordable mobile devices like the Kindle Fire enter the marketplace
. Accompanying this shift in technology consumption is an ever growing demand for free Wi-Fi, which several new services are seeking to meet in unexpected ways.
Wi-Fi Vending Machine:
In recent years, vending machines have expanded their offerings from basic candy and chips to products as luxurious as gold
. Japan, which is well ahead of the curve when it comes to automated retail
, has pushed the boundaries even further, as drink manufacturer Asahi Beverages has introduced soda machines
that offer free Wi-Fi to anyone within a 50 meter radius. In addition to providing web browsing capabilities, the hosted home page will show geo-specific dining, shopping and tourist information. Users can connect for up to 30 minutes before having to reconnect—which should be just enough time for them to get thirsty.
The popularity of check-in services proves that consumers are quite willing to interact with businesses beyond the cash register if it means there’s a deal in it for them. With this in mind, Belgian mobile operator Mobile Vikings
is beta-testing a new program called VikingSpots
in which customers can earn VikingPoints redeemable for free mobile WiFi by participating in special offers from local businesses. Through the trial, which is currently available only to a group of select testers, a network of local reward “spots” has been established in Belgium’s Hasselt area at restaurants such as Chuckwagon BBQ
and shops such as cycling retailer Janssen Fietsplezier
From what people wear to what they read, Brooklyn’s L Train is a moving microcosm of breaking trends. The L Train Notwork
, a weeklong digital experiment/art project that creative agency We Make Cool Sh.it
installed on the subway line this fall, suggests that ‘homebrew’ Internet could be the next trend in Wi-Fi. Though commuters who connected were unable to use the service to access the open web, they were able to gain admittance to a closed Intranet of sorts featuring a chat room and select creative content. With its captive audience, the underground location was certainly ideal, but there’s no reason that a shop or restaurant couldn’t establish its own ‘pirate’ network for marketing purposes.