Mikado : une fausse pub risquée pour relancer un produit, Publicité – Les Echos Business

Source: Mikado : une fausse pub risquée pour relancer un produit, Publicité – Les Echos Business

Pour relancer Mikado King Choco, Mikado a orchestré une fausse campagne vantant les mérites de Mikado Stick, une gourmandise sans chocolat. Un pari très risqué qui a déclenché un véritable « bashing » de la marque.

 

La meilleure publicité pour… Catherine Reichert, directrice de la communication de l’Europe du sud chez Yahoo

Quelle est selon vous la meilleure publicité conçue depuis l’été dernier ?
La campagne MikadoKing de Christophe Lichtenstein et Alexander Kalchev avec l’agence Romance (Omnicom). En janvier dernier, pour relancer un de ces produits déjà présents depuis deux ans sur le marché, le Mikado King Choco, Mikado orchestre une campagne cross-device (vidéos, affichage…) en annonçant la fausse sortie d’un nouveau Mikado… sans chocolat.

Très vite, un bad buzz se propage sur le net, repris par de nombreux media, déclenchant un véritable bashing de la marque. Sur Twitter notamment, des milliers de tweets s’échangent avec le hashtag #LeMikadoSansChocolatCestAussiConQue. Mikado fait alors entrer en scène une équipe d’experts en social media qui va répondre en live aux réactions des internautes par des créations et des messages drôles et décalés. La marque révèle ensuite la supercherie (car #MikadoKing, c’est deux fois plus de chocolat !) via une vidéo.

Qu’est-ce qui vous a plu dans cette campagne ?
C’est une campagne osée qui a pris de court toute son audience, y compris les professionnels de la publicité. En jouant sur le registre décalé, la marque a réussi à susciter de la surprise et de l’émotion pour au final gagner les consommateurs à sa cause une fois la supercherie dévoilée. Tous ont applaudi cette campagne menée avec humour et brio. La marque a accepté de prendre des risques, notamment celui de se faire basher et qu’une partie de son audience ne s’arrête qu’à la mauvaise piste ou n’apprécie pas le parti pris de la campagne. C’est courageux car cela implique d’accepter de ne pas tout contrôler, voire même que l’issue ne soit pas celle que l’on visait. J’aime l’idée qu’une marque accepte de prendre ce risque. Cela augmente son capital sympathie. Mais en même temps, je pense que cela demande de la part d’une marque, une grande confiance en elle et dans ses valeurs. Cela démontre également une parfaite maîtrise des codes d’internet, et beaucoup de professionnalisme dans la préparation et l’orchestration de la campagne.

Quelles bonnes idées ou pratiques retenez-vous de la campagne menée ?
Si une marque doit veiller à être en adéquation avec son ADN, ce qui était ici le cas de Mikado, elle a tout à gagner à jouer avec l’humour et l’émotion, deux registres qui fonctionnent toujours très bien auprès des consommateurs. Ces derniers veulent s’amuser, être divertis. C’est ce qu’a su faire Mikado grâce à une bonne dose d’auto-dérision.

Quelles sont pour vous les critères incontournables d’une bonne campagne digitale ?
Avant tout, une bonne campagne digitale doit être savamment orchestrée pour jouer de chacun des réseaux sociaux avec une communication parfaitement adaptée dans le ton et les messages et bénéficier d’une distribution optimale de son contenu. Cela demande une forte expertise des modes de fonctionnement et des codes de communication des réseaux sociaux. Ensuite, jouer sur des registres tels que l’humour, la surprise et l’émotion, permet de générer un fort engagement de son audience. La viralité peut alors fonctionner pleinement et le net remplir son rôle de formidable caisse de résonnance. Enfin, la qualité du digital est également qu’il offre une palette de formats extrêmement riche (visuels, textes, vidéos, gifs…) laissant une grande place à la créativité.
En savoir plus sur http://business.lesechos.fr/directions-marketing/communication/publicite/mikado-une-fausse-pub-risquee-pour-relancer-un-produit-201535.php?c0YFrtwjYk5QCuBQ.99

Beats by Dre présente: François Trinh-Duc – By Your Side

Encore abasourdi par son éviction du groupe français sélectionné pour défendre les couleurs de la France à la prochaine Coupe du Monde de Rugby en Angleterre, François Trinh-Duc, le demi d’ouverture de Montpellier qui compte pourtant 51 sélections, 70 points et 9 essais avec le maillot tricolore n’a pas convaincu le sélectionneur Philippe Saint-André.

Comme pour le consoler la marque de casque pour sportif – entre autres –  Beats by Dre, a sauté sur l’occasion pour transformer son essai à elle. Mettant en scène le joueur en question, une journaliste sportive deCanal+, Isabelle Ithurburu et quelques figurants, la marque rappelle l’importance d’avoir du soutien même dans les moments difficiles. Une facette du sport qui fait partie du jeu mais se révèle en pratique difficile à illustrer avec des athlètes venant tout juste de subir l’échec. Preuve qu’il faut un mental d’acier pour si vite encaisser une telle situation et aller de l’avant, Thrinh-Duc montre qu’il n’en est pas moins un grand champion.
En savoir plus sur http://www.gqmagazine.fr/sport/news/videos/franois-trinh-duc-martyr-pour-beats-by-dre/17742?utm_content=buffer075ca&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer#JWeYPyUiksZ1xLVv.99

Meet M, Facebook’s personal assistant that lives inside Messenger

Source: Meet M, Facebook’s personal assistant that lives inside Messenger

The social network’s next step in expanding its messaging app’s relationship with commerce.

Move over Siri and Cortana, there’s a new digital sidekick in town: M, Facebook’s latest project.

Nested inside Messenger, Facebook’s messaging app, M is an artificial intelligence-based service the company is beginning to test, according to a Facebook post on Wednesday by Messenger head and former PayPal executive David Marcus.

“Unlike other AI-based services in the market, M can actually complete tasks on your behalf. It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more,” Marcus writes.

Marcus also posted a few screen shots of the service, which show a text-based interface through which a user communicates with M about what they need. The service is currently available to a few hundred people in the Bay Area, a Facebook spokesperson told Fortune.

Rumors of the service, then thought to be called Moneypenny, broke out in mid-July, noting that people would be the other end of the service to make much of the decisions. “It’s powered by artificial intelligence that’s trained and supervised by people,” Marcus writes.

Messenger has been expanding its integration with e-commerce and merchants recently. In March, it opened up access to businesses, allowing them to connect with customers through the messaging app.

In addition to purely digital assistants like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, M will be competing with services like Magic and Operator, which also use people to help customers make purchases and book services like plane tickets or restaurant reservations. It will also be interesting to see how the service evolves as a customer service tool. Though right now all the human helpers are internal to Facebook, M, along with Messenger for Business could someday take the place of customer service tools like Olark.

Here’s how Brazil is giving every citizen free mobile data o access their bank accounts for free on smartphones without incurring data costs

Here’s how Brazil is giving every citizen free mobile data.

hoppers look at the iPad at a shopping centre in Sao Paulo, Brazil (file). The Brazilian government is working with local companies and Qualcomm, the world’s largest mobile phone chipmaker, on a modern version of toll-free calling. A new 1-800 system for mobile data allows Brazilians to access their bank accounts for free on smartphones without incurring data costs. The government of São Paulo plans to extend free data services to some official websites by the end of the year.

By Ian King and /Christiana Sciaudone/Bloomberg Business


Once considered the next great growth engine for the smartphone industry, Brazil is on the decline. With its economy shrinking and unemployment on the rise, many Brazilians are making do with dumb phones. They find the cost of an Internet-connected device prohibitive, particularly when they factor in mobile data fees.
One possible solution borrows from a technical breakthrough made by AT&T half a century ago. 


The Brazilian government is working with local companies and Qualcomm, the world’s largest mobile phone chipmaker, on a modern version of toll-free calling. A new 1-800 system for mobile data allows Brazilians to access their bank accounts for free on smartphones without incurring data costs. The government of São Paulo plans to extend free data services to some official websites by the end of the year.
Banco Bradesco, one of the country’s biggest banks, began exploring a free data programme after observing that many customers had stopped using the company’s app and were switching back to such traditional banking services as phone calls and visits to the teller. A survey of those customers found that they couldn’t afford data plans and didn’t have access to Wi-Fi during work hours, when banks are open. 
Bradesco teamed up with technology giant Qualcomm, and together they spent a year negotiating with Brazil’s four main phone-service providers. The bank purchased data packages wholesale and started rolling out the programme in 2014. Bradesco customers can check account balances, transfer money, and pay bills without buying a data plan. “The response was excellent,” says Mauricio Minas, a vice president at the bank.
Bradesco has signed up almost 7mn of its 26mn checking account customers to the company’s mobile services, Minas says; it had 4mn at the end of 2014. The number of mobile transactions in the first half of 2015 doubled, compared with the same period last year, and the bank expects volumes to keep doubling each year. About 35% of all transactions will be initiated on phones by the end of 2015, and that number should rise to 40% next year, Minas estimates.


Sponsored data has been tested in other emerging markets, with some success. Internet.org, a pet project of Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg, provides free access to a limited group of websites—Facebook being one—in Colombia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia. Two of China’s largest mobile operators began offering one-day free access to Alibaba’s Taobao Marketplace in 2013 to get people hooked on the shopping site and to encourage data use.
Bradesco’s service in Brazil isn’t a philanthropic endeavour. Besides creating an incentive to attract new customers, it’s cheaper than hiring additional bank and call centre staff. Each visit to a teller costs the bank more than $4, whereas an online transaction costs pennies, according to a study commissioned by Qualcomm. “This solution easily pays for itself,” says Minas.
Qualcomm, which sponsored a report about the programme in Brazil that is expected to be published on August 18, is developing similar free-data software that the government will roll out to citizens. Qualcomm is banking on emerging markets to drive future demand for smartphones, most of which rely on the company’s chips. While Brazil, at 282mn mobile subscribers, has more phone lines than people, some 75% are on prepaid plans with little to no data. Smartphone sales growth in the country dropped 15% last quarter after a 56% jump during the same period in 2014, according to market research firm IDC.
Qualcomm is encouraged by the results of its programme. “If you apply the same concept that you have with 1-800 calls to data, you can revolutionise the industry,” says Christiano Amon, co-head of Qualcomm’s chip unit. “I believe it has the potential to get adopted in many, many places.”
One place Qualcomm isn’t expected to go after is the US While Amazon.com successfully introduced a similar, albeit limited, programme with free access to its e-bookstore on Kindles in 2007, Americans have resisted the concept of corporate-sponsored Web access. Proponents of net neutrality set their sights on Internet.org in May, saying it’s a vehicle to lock people into Facebook. 
Past proposals for sponsored data in the US have “caused a bit of an uproar,” says Courtney Munroe, an analyst at IDC. While such services may not work in developed markets, “it makes a lot of sense where data is still relatively expensive,” he says.


Brazilians happy to avoid standing in line at the bank may soon get relief from a second common inconvenience: getting a driver’s licence. The state government in São Paulo is developing an app called Poupatempo, meaning “save time,” that aims to speed up the process of applying for a licence or identity card. Sao Paulo will spend at least 30mn reais ($9mn) a year to build out the service, and it wants to make sure people are using it. “Most don’t access the service online because of the cost associated with data,” says Aldo Garda, an information technology coordinator for the state government.
São Paulo is talking to the four biggest telecoms in Brazil about buying data on behalf of residents. The government hopes to save itself some money by converting people from more expensive call centres to online services, Garda says. He expects a 50% reduction in visits to government offices within two years, if the app is successful. Given the recent economic troubles throughout the country and cuts on government spending that impend, Brazil could use any savings it can get.

Introducing the KIT KAT Studio: a celebration of food, flavour, and most importantly…creativity!

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/135544033″>Introducing the KIT KAT Studio: a celebration of food, flavour, and most importantly&hellip;creativity!</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/ensembleagency”>Ensemble</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Comme l’a dévoilé le blog spécialisé dans la publicité iletaitunepub, “afin de célébrer dignement son 80ème anniversaire, Nestlé a proposé aux heureux habitants de Sydney de tester le Kit Kat Studio”. Concrètement, ce studio éphémère dédié à l’univers de Kit Kat a permis aux clients de personnaliser leur barre de chocolat adorée en y ajoutant trois ingrédients de leur choix pour saupoudrer et donner une nouvelle saveur au produit historique. Une fois la création terminée, celle-ci est emballée dans un packaging spécialement imaginé pour le 80ème anniversaire de la marque. Vous le voyez ainsi, en plus de la personnalisation, au travers de cette campagne, Kit Kat mise aussi sur la co-création, et ça c’est clairement tout bon auprès de la jeune génération, toujours plus désireuse de s’engager auprès des marques !
Read more at http://www.airofmelty.fr/kit-kat-personnalisation-et-co-creation-pour-feter-les-80-ans-de-la-marque-aupres-des-jeunes-gourmands-a442272.html#OiDXaSgwMM0XZydE.99

Indian rapper uses Nicki Minaj beat to call out Unilever | Dazed

Indian rapper uses Nicki Minaj beat to call out Unilever | Dazed.

Sofia Ashraf will not back down over the damage she alleges Unilever has done to her city, using Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda beat for a protest rap against the company.

Local activists from Kodaikanal, a city in the state of Tamil Nadu, have been campaigning for years over the company’s abandonment of a thermometer factory. Mercury is a poisonous metal and India has no way of processing it. Ashraf’s song urges the CEO of Unilever, Paul Polman, to compensate the former workers of the factory at the Indian unit, who were exposed to toxic mercury, allegedly causing 45 deaths after mercury poisoning.

Unilever denies responsibility, dismissing scientific papers and the experiences of people from the area. In a statement on their website they say: “The conclusions of the CEM report is in contrast to the results and conclusions of several site assessment and risk assessment studies that have been done by independent experts and institutes over the years and we stand by the reports of the past.”

Ashraf has rapped about social issues before, including for the victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy of 1984, which some consider to be the world’s worst industrial disaster.

Greenpeace and other environmental groups have previously accused Unilever of failing to clean up the waste, which harmed the forests of Kodikan. The rap video urges people who watch it to sign a petition, to hold Unilever accountable and get the company to compensate the workers affected by the mercury.

Twitter est-il vraiment la « boule de cristal » des marchés financiers ? – Rue89 – L’Obs

Twitter est-il vraiment la « boule de cristal » des marchés financiers ? – Rue89 – L’Obs.

C’est un article des Echos qui a provoqué le courroux de Thomas Renault, doctorant en économie, qui anime le blog Captain Economics.

« Comment Twitter est devenu la boule de cristal des marchés financiers, » annonce tout de go, le 31 juillet, le quotidien de l’économie. S’ensuit une mignonne infographie sur les « tweets qui ont fait réagir les marchés » – comme celui posté par le compte piraté d’Associated Press annonçant une explosion à la Maison-Blanche – et un papier qui tend à montrer que le réseau social est « devenu la miss météo des marchés ».

A l’appui de la démonstration, Les Echos citent une étude de Bollen, Mao et Zeng, chercheurs à l’université de l’Indiana et de Manchester, qui, en 2010, ont montré que les données de Twitter pouvaient prédire l’évolution du Dow Jones avec 87,6% de fiabilité [PDF]. Autre étude, même effets : des économistes de l’université de Californie ont trouvé une « corrélation importante entre le nombre de transactions d’un titre et le nombre de “composants raccordés” – c’est à dire le nombre de posts liés à des sujets distincts concernant la même entreprise » [PDF].

Bref, tout cela a pour but de montrer qu’il est possible de « sentir » les états d’âme – irrationnels ou non – des investisseurs de toute farine à partir de l’analyse d’une masse de signes papillonnants (les tweets). Tout cela semble validé par une étude récente de la Banque centrale européenne (BCE) [PDF].

Sauf que.

Méthodo ?

Thomas Renault, qui prépare une thèse sur le sujet et dont les posts sont relayés par le très libéral site Contretemps ainsi que par divers organes de presse, appelle à la prudence.

En préalable, il donne un petit cadre conceptuel à sa critique : deux visions pourraient expliquer le rôle de Twitter sur l’évolution des marchés. La première se base sur la théorie informationnelle : l’idée que l’information publiée sur Twitter n’est pas encore intégrée dans la formation des prix. Elle est fondamentalement nouvelle. Ainsi, l’arrivée de Twitter modifie de manière permanente la formation de ces prix. La seconde se rapproche de la théorie « sentimentale » : le prix d’un actif peut dévier de son niveau d’équilibre en fonction du sentiment d’investisseurs « naïfs ». Twitter sert justement à mesurer ces craintes ou enthousiasmes.

Bon. Mais cela ne remet pas en question la pertinence des études citées plus haut. Cette critique constitue la deuxième partie de la note de Thomas Renault.

Argument numéro 1 : l’étude de Bollen, Mao et Zeng, qui prédit avec 87,6% de fiabilité l’évolution du Dow Jones n’est pas si béton que cela :

« La précision du modèle est testée “out-of-the-sample” sur une période allant du 1er décembre 2008 au 19 décembre 2008, soit 15 jours de trading ! 15 jours, en données daily (donc une étude sur 15 points) ! De plus cette étude ne s’intéresse pas au rendement d’une stratégie de trading basée sur Twitter, mais simplement à une prévision de la direction du marché (est-ce que le marché va monter ou bien est-ce qu’il va baisser). Pour finir, 6 modèles différents sont testés et le résultat mis en avant est celui du meilleur modèle, ce qui a tendance à clairement biaiser les résultats (en testant un grand nombre de stratégies purement aléatoires sur un nombre de points limités, la meilleur stratégie aura statistiquement une précision proche de 100%…). »

Argument numéro 2 : l’étude de la BCE n’est en réalité pas une étude de la BCE. C’est même précisé au début : « Ce papier ne représente pas les vues » etc. Il est signé par deux des auteurs (Bollen et Mao) de l’étude précédente.

Argument numéro 3 : corrélation n’est pas causalité.

« Dans l’article des Echos, il est par exemple écrit “A l’époque, Bloomberg en avait également profité pour sauter le pas en ajoutant les messages Twitter à son offre de services financiers quotidiens. Dans les semaines qui suivent, les ‘ flashs crashs ’ s’enchaînent.” Alors oui, le fait que des algos de trading haute-fréquence puissent analyser en temps réel le contenu des tweets (et tout autre flux d’information – articles, blogs, forums…) pour prendre des positions peut en effet déstabiliser les marchés en augmentant la volatilité… Le Captain’ n’a rien contre cette hypothèse, mais comme toute hypothèse, il va falloir prouver cela empiriquement en “contrôlant” le tout pour considérer l’ensemble des autres explications possibles. »

Conclusion de Thomas Renault, qui cite à son tour des études moins tranchéessur la question :

« Les résultats empiriques sont pour le moment très mitigés. […] Twitter n’est clairement pas une “boule de cristal” permettant de prévoir les marchés, mais plutôt “un bon miroir” reflétant la situation présente. »

Amazon offers nationwide discount on back of Havas Meaningful Brands survey, as it launches John Lewis-style ad | The Drum

Amazon offers nationwide discount on back of Havas Meaningful Brands survey, as it launches John Lewis-style ad | The Drum.

Amazon is offering Brits a £10 discount on any order over £50 on the back of a Havas Media survey, amid wider marketing activity to promote its Prime service which kicked off over the weekend (31 July).

The results of Havas’ ‘Meaningful Brands’ global study, which involved over 20,000 people in the UK, were revealed earlier this year but only recently received wider industry recognition.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ez3o7L0R3rg

The Meaningful Brands metric was related to how consumers’ quality of life and wellbeing connects with brands at both a human and business level. Specifically, it looked at the role brands play in communities, how they impact self-esteem, healthy lifestyles, connectivity with friends and family, making lives easier, fitness and happiness as well as marketplace factors such as quality and price of goods.

Amazon topped the list in the UK, with 64 per cent of people saying they would care if the retailer disappeared. M&S and John Lewis – viewed as ‘ethical’ heritage brands – followed Amazon, with discount retailer Aldi and Sainsbury’s rounding off the top five.

To say thank you, Amazon has rolled out the £10 off promotion.

“We are grateful to customers for ranking Amazon #1 across Britain’s retailers,” said Christopher North, managing director at Amazon UK.  “You can count on us to continue working hard to set ever-higher standards for customer experience.”

The ‘BIGTHANKS’ promotion coincides with the roll out of a UK marketing campaign to bolster uptake of its Prime service.

The ad takes a different approach to previous Amazon activity, which has previously relied on consumer testimoials to woo new shoppers. Instead, the brand has followed the likes of John Lewis and Nationwide in running more emotive led creative in order to showcase what their services mean to customers rather than focus on the more funcitonal benefits.

To that end, Amazon’s latest ad follows the story of a little boy on the first day of nursery.He is showen nervously trying to fit in, as his anxious father watches through a window. His dad is then seen buying something via the Amazon mobile app, before the ad cuts to the next day when the little boy arrives at nursery wearing a superman costume.

It ends on the line: ‘Millions of ways to save the day, delivered in one day’.

Prime is Amazon’s key asset in its ambitious plan to create an ecosystem where users will spend more time and money. Over the past six-months it has ramped up its strategy to sign up new members, namely with the launch of the Prime Day last month.

Open only to Prime members, it offered discounts across thousands of goods for 24 hours. Amazon has not yet offered data on how many new members it attracted, but claims that global order growth increased 18 per cent on Prime Day versus the same day last year

Internet of Wine: The Italian project using networked vineyards to make a better vintage | ZDNet

Internet of Wine: The Italian project using networked vineyards to make a better vintage | ZDNet.

wine-grapes-hand.jpg

Networking is bringing new efficiences to the wine-making industry. Image: iStock

There are many factors that could influence the quality of a good wine – but photo cameras and wireless networks have not traditionally been among them. Daniele Trinchero, founder of iXem Labs, part of the Politecnico of Torino in north-west Italy, knows how important they can be, however. For him, being able to monitor the grapes’ growth by having access to a stream of images could help farmers make better quality and more sustainable products.

Accordingly, for the last couple of years, the 46-year-old professor of engineering has been installing dozens of tiny cameras connected through a low-cost wireless network in some of the finest vineyards of the country – those where Barolo or Brunello di Montalcino wines are produced. Every hour, the devices take a picture of the grape and make it available online, where it can be seen in real-time or stored for an agronomist to inspect later.

Trinchero and the wine makers that allowed him access to their fields are persuaded that such a system could help make the Italian wine sector more efficient without affecting quality. “Organic grape-growing is expensive,” he told ZDNet. “The plants have to be constantly monitored in order to minimize the use of chemicals against pests – a process that means an agronomist always has to be on site. Not every producer can afford it.”

With iXem Labs’ hardware and networks, experts’ intervention can be scheduled or called upon only when needed. “We wanted to create tools that could help the development of a more sustainable agriculture,” Trinchero said. “There is no other solution like that on the market right now.”

According to iXem Labs, the system might help the farmers to save up to €650 per hectare per year, thanks to lower chemical use and less need for agronomists.

NO SMALL FEAT

Thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones and social networks, the idea of a device taking images and transmitting them over the internet may sound quite ordinary. The problem is that the conditions found in a vineyard are anything but. Besides rain and wind, heat can be hard on technological devices as in some fields of Italy — in Sicily, for example, the temperature can easily reach 50°C. What’s more, in the countryside, energy consumption must be kept at minimum as there may be no permanent or reliable power supply, while broadband connectivity tends to be less readily available than in urban areas.

To overcome these problems iXem Labs drew on the knowledge accumulated over the years spent in bringing the internet to remote areas of the world such as the Amazon in South America or the Comoro Islands in Africa. First, the team developed small ad hoc cameras (9cm long, 5cm large, 5cm deep) that could withstand the rigors of the weather. Then, they made the devices into the nodes of a low-energy wireless sensor network which can cover vast areas and still transmit high-resolution images to a base station.

Thanks to iXem Lab’s own technology, the network is built with the farmers’ needs in mind. “At one end of the spectrum, you could have up to 100 cameras per hectare, this is how granular our system can be. But I doubt anyone in real life situation would ever want anything like that,” Trinchero said.

On the other hand, he added, you can manage to efficiently cover a wide area with just a few nodes, even if your internet connectivity doesn’t stretch too far. Thanks to the fact that the nodes can use each other as bridges, Trinchero claims the network can go as far as 20km from the base station. “You can have just one node every 25 hectares if you want to, and the system will work fine. But what is important is that you can configure it according to your needs,” he said.

The image recording is one of the most distinctive features of the iXem Labs’ system, but not its only functionality. The way the network is designed allows for any camera-node to become the epicenter of second-level networks composed of up to 60 sensors each. Each sensor — able to collect data on factors such as the soil or leaves’ humidity level or the temperature of the site — is powered independently, and once every 60 minutes it wirelessly delivers the data to the camera-node which passes it on to the base station along with the images it has taken.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjWWhizNnIs

The result is an extremely flexible structure. “You can add sensors at will and configure them to collect the data whenever you want. The only rule is that the transmission from the sensors to the camera and from the camera to the base station should happen only once every 60 minutes,” Trinchero said.

This sort of organized anarchy is the key to minimizing power consumption, to make sure each component only uses the minimum power it needs to function. The sensors, iXem Labs says, can run for up to 10 years on a normal AA battery while collecting data every five minutes. Each camera-node can work practically forever if powered by a solar panel the size of an iPhone 4, or it can go on for about a month with an AA battery.

BACK TO ITS ROOTS

The partnership between networking and wine experts didn’t happen just by chance. Trinchero is a native of Monferrato, an area of the Piedmont region in north-western Italy considered one of the most important wine districts in the country. In 2012 he attended a conference where one of the speakers was Angelo Gaja, owner of the famous winery of the same name and producer of some of the best Barbaresco and Barolo wines from the Boot.

The engineer told the winemaker about his dream to one day use the technologies his lab was working on in vineyards the technologies. The two Piedmont natives clicked and one year later the first experiments with the connected cameras started on Gaja’s fields. In the meantime Trinchero had signed up other producers of high-end wines, such as Brunello di Montalcino and Nobile di Montepulciano in Tuscany. “I grew up among grapes fields and to me working there is a way to live close to my roots,” he said.

The devices and the wireless sensor network have been refined over the past two years thanks to the experiments iXem Labs and the wine producers have been running. The system is now ready for the next step: commercialization. Last March, the university’s project was spun out, becoming a startup named iXem, founded with the mission of bringing the system to market.

The first two camera-nodes have already been sold to wine makers in Montalcino and Montepulciano, two areas in Tuscany were the wines of the same names are produced. The idea is to start with the cameras, which address a gap in the market, and then win customers round to the idea of a flexible, easily-configurable network.

“Images give you an idea of the health of the crop right away, it is just like a real-time alert and nobody offers that now,” Riccardo Stefanelli, one of the three co-founders of iXem, told ZDNet. The company’s aim is to begin with wine and then expand into other areas of agriculture. In the future the startup will add other technologies being developed at the university labs to its portfolio, such as innovative sensors that are able to detect the humidity of the soil up to a depth of 15 meters.

In the meantime, the market might find other uses for the products the engineers haven’t even thought of. “Some producers have already asked about the possibility of publishing the pictures online. They said it might be good for marketing,” Stefanelli said.