It may seem like the stuff straight out of a sci-fi flick but its true that now a new soft drink bottle with flavour buttons could give customers multiple beverage choices in one container.
The programmable bottle, designed by the Sudbury, Massachusetts-based company Ipifini, could also improve choices for shampoos, sauces, paints and perfumes, while at the same time reducing manufacturing costs and taking up less shelf space.
"The idea here is that the company can launch more variety, but distribute less product around the country," Tom Woolf, president and founder of Ipifini, was quoted by Discovery News, as saying.
The concept came from software that Woolf invented, called Innovation Engine. The software pulls knowledge from databases to systematically help the user improve an existing product or come up with a new idea.
When it comes to improving soft drinks, food manufacturers appeal to broad tastes. Consider Coca-Cola, now available in half a dozen flavors, including Coca-Cola Black Cherry Vanilla, Vanilla Coke, Coca-Cola with Lime, Coca-Cola with Lemon and Raspberry Coke.
Building and operating several factory lines to accommodate each flavor is more expensive than using just one. Distributing the variety of flavors is also a challenge. Each store needs more of one flavor than another, which can make ordering and stocking an inventory nightmare.
And although large stores may be able to accommodate all flavors, small stores usually have limited shelf space.
But the programmable bottle would require just one factory line to dispense the base flavor, such as cola. Several different flavors would be locked in sealed, plastic buttons around the periphery of the bottleneck.
A customer could choose cherry cola, for example, by pressing the cherry button, squirting the flavor into the drink. To get cherry vanilla, both flavor buttons could be pressed.
Other products, such as paint, perfume, and shampoos could also offer customized colors, scents or conditioning formulas.