IoT and Monetizing the Fridge

Who owns your ketchup? That is the question that came up during a conversation at a private event in New York City last week (hat tip to Shelly Palmer) with a broad variety of interesting folks from technology and media. More specifically, who owns the data about the state of your refrigerator? All this started during an IoT discussion around Samsung’s Smart Refrigerator. It features a camera that is inside the door so that you can see what you have when you are at the grocery store.

If you have read some of my past articles, you may remember my statements about consumer applications being easier to write about, but industry and enterprise is where the bulk of the opportunity is for the next two years. This does not mean that consumer IoT applications do not exist, but it does raise serious questions about the sharing and monetization of the related consumer data. It is much easier to deploy a simple piece of hardware like a camera than to proactively define data privacy and monetization.

The big joke when Google acquired Nest was that if you have a fire, you will be served advertisements for fire extinguishers and rental housing! But let’s talk about the myriad of people who would like to know the state of your humble cooler:


Grocery stores – Why not serve coupons for likely purchases? How about a reminder when running low?

Restaurants – Why cook at all when you have nothing to eat at home and receive a wonderful offer to go out?

Brands – Ketchup loyalty can be encouraged by delivering incentives at the right time. After all, those Sunday newspaper inserts have no sense of need and depend upon a shotgun approach.

Recipes – Based on available ingredients, here’s a link to a Food Channel show and recipe that would be just perfect!

Related products – Hmm, pickles, ice cream and chili sauce – maybe we should offer a pregnancy test or new baby product discounts?

Doctor – Chocolate marshmallow ice cream again? Sounds like your doctor may want to know.

Employer – If you want to get the healthy employee discount, your employer may penalize you if pie and cheesecake are detected!

Lawyers – Bad experience with recalled mayonnaise? Hard proof of consumption (and a class action lawsuit) is just a fridgecam away.

The point here is that like all IoT applications, the value of the solution is in the data that is generated. Many different parties would love to get their hands on this information, and they would gladly pay for it, especially when associated with a specific identity. Revenue generated from data could even subsidize the product, or provide a long-term services revenue stream to the manufacturer. This is one of the great benefits of the digital world – hyper specific offers with exact tracking of results. But how is all this permissioned, managed and monetized? This is where the true opportunity lies.

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