Modern day smartphones are undeniably capable (here’s one solving a Rubik’s Cube in under 30 seconds). And whether it is Apple’s fingerprint scanner, or Samsung’s heart rate monitor, they are also increasingly coming packed with hardware to answer the whims of both developers and users alike. But there is a limit on how much you can pack in to these devices. Enter the smartphone dongle.
A dongle is a piece of hardware that connects to another piece of technology to augment its operation. Wireless modems, USB sticks, memory card readers – these are all dongles. Today, we are starting to see companies creating their own bespoke dongles that attach to smartphones and increase their functionality.
American meat and cold cut production company, Oscar Mayer, is one such company. This week they have announced their new smartphone app that wakes you up with the sweet sounds — and scents — of sizzling bacon. That’s right, scents. Using a dongle filled with bacon-scented liquid, that connects to your iPhone or iPad’s headphone jack, you can now awake each morning to the unmistakable smell of cooking pork product.
More locally, BNZ recently launched their own smartphone dongle known as PayClip®. A portable debit and credit card reader that fits into the headphone socket of a smartphone or tablet, when paired with a free downloadable app, PayClip will let customers process payments on the spot wherever their smart device has reception.
And, if you believe their website, The LIVR Reverse Breathalyzer App will be yet another company venturing into the world of smartphone dongles. Launching this year the app uses a breathalyser dongle to measure a user’s alcohol levels before granting them access to an exclusive social network. Creator Kyle Addison describes it as a “biometric bouncer”.
So what does this mean for New Zealand brands? Will we see this sort of branded dongle appearing more and more in the coming months, or is this just a passing fad? And is it a risk to develop technology that is dependant on another company not changing their functionality?
Regardless of the risks, this type of hardware will no doubt continue to develop in parallel with smartphone technology itself. And with retailers looking for that ever-shrinking edge over their competitors – smartphone dongles may just be the ace up the proverbial sleeve.
Author: Edward Bell (Senior Creative)