There is the real world, and there is the electronic world. Tech shop findtheDOT, Inc., based in Oakland, CA, offers a technology designed to connect the two. The company has developed a device called a power dot, about the size of a small fingernail, which can be affixed to products or media. It can be read with a DOTfinder, a tool that is about the size of a pack of gum and can fit on a key chain.
According to CEO Kim Rubin, this product has two main purposes. The first is for use in a warehouse. The employee reads a product and brings up on his PC screen all of the key information he needs to know, such as installation and maintenance procedures, safety warnings, applications, and instructions. The power dot can be affixed to any product, Rubin says, and is unique down to the serial number.
The power dot’s second main use represents a convergence between physical products and print media, including catalogs, newspapers, magazines, business cards, and phone books. Within 30 feet of a consumer’s PC, the wireless DOTfinder transmits requests automatically to the PC and then to the findtheDOT server, which immediately delivers a personalized e-mail message to the consumer. This e-mail contains the hard facts needed to complete fulfillment, such as where to buy in person, where to buy online, and other relevant information. The entire process takes only a few seconds.
Rubin says that the new technology promises finally to give brick-and-mortar companies a way to capitalize on the advantages of the Internet. It also enables advertisers to obtain accurate real-time statistics and demographics on the effectiveness of their efforts, and offers opportunities to connect self-qualified respondents to print advertising while preserving consumers’ privacy and freedom from mailing lists and spam.