Week 1 of the 2014 NFL season was much the same at Mesh Systems as it was at other companies. Our Mesh Labs team, based in Wisconsin, donned their cheeseheads and dutifully practiced their “Go Pack Go!” chant. Our Indianapolis-based crew continued to pine for the glory days when Peyton Manning was at the helm of the Colts.
Week 2 of the 2014 NFL season was very different. A forward-thinking team within AB InBev's marketing department had come up with an idea for an “Interactive Tap Handle” that would light up in celebration when the home team scored. The goal, simply, was to develop technology that would make AB InBev an integral part of watching televised sports at bars and restaurants. Lucas Herscovici, AB InBev’s VP of Consumer Connections summed it up well: “As the leading sponsor in football and baseball, Anheuser-Busch is always looking for ways to enhance our fans’ experience. When you’re out with friends it’s exciting when all these tap handle lights start flashing when your team scores. It’s as if the bar or restaurant itself is celebrating with you.” Working closely with Sprint, AB InBev teamed up with Mesh Systems to bring that idea into reality.
“Is there any chance we can get this done by February? We want to pilot this in 100 bars and restaurants in Denver for Super Bowl XLVIII.”
Armed with a simple but powerful idea and a timeline, the engineers at Mesh Systems got right to work. Around here, we have the saying that “The Internet of Things starts with things.” The first order of business was to design a battery-operated light engine and flexible messaging display that could be inserted into the top of a tap handle. Working closely with Hankscraft AJS, one of the world’s leading beer tap handle manufacturers, Mesh ensured that the device would be able to withstand the harsh environment that is the American bar and restaurant.
In the cloud, Mesh built an application that consumes live sports data from Stats.com. Bars and restaurants all over the country could then subscribe to their favorite NFL teams. When a touchdown happens, a Stats.com statistician manually keys the scoring information into their platform. Mesh’s cloud solution then consumes the scoring information and sends a celebration message to the site gateways that are subscribed to that particular team. When the system receives the celebration message, the tap handles go wild, lighting up and displaying the score. And all of the that happens within the 6-second tape-delay of live TV.