OMO Knows Where You Live – in Brazil

We have been talking about the “smart home” for over a decade – where all your home appliances become devices, transmitting and connecting to each other to create a kind of home intelligence. For example, refrigerators could determine when your supplies are low and automatically place online orders for food and drink.

But what if the products that you buy were “connected” in this way? What if the manufacturers could track you back to your home, transmitting their locations via a hidden GPS?

This is being trialled for an OMO promotion in Brazil. According to Shun Ma, this OMO detergent promotion includes a GPS in a select number of boxes of washing powder. There are 35 teams across the country ready to swoop on your home, tracking down your “beeping box” of washing powder to offer you a prize. But there’s a catch. There will be cameras, photos and reportage. Your location will appear on the Experimento Algo Novo website – so like never before the phrase “we know where you live” could be both a promise and a threat.

And as location based services become more prevalent – and as platforms like Facebook bring geo-location data into your social graph – we will see more debate around the what it means to be "private".

While knowing "where your customers are" appears, on the surface, to be a kind of demographic nirvana, most businesses already have a great deal of customer data that is going unused. For many of us, just building a great product or creating a memorable experience/interaction is difficult enough – I wonder whether this is another layer that pushes an authentic experience further into mediation. In an age of transparency, the enforced intimacy of personal location may well be a step too far – or it could create a whole new mode of connection.

Early experiments with technologies like this always raise questions. It’s a risk – and it can backfire, or prove a huge success. But the last thing anyone wants is to see an OMO moment turn into an OMG moment.