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Wireless Networking Communications Handhelds Hardware

GPS Cell Phone in Soda Can Form 301

Myko writes " reports that Coca Cola has unleashed a new GPS enabled cell phone for a new promo. Apparently the user will push one button which will auto dial a Coke rep that will tell them they won an SUV. They'll then press and enable the GPS and the prize squad will drive to their location with the prize. So the big question is, will the phone give off any residual waves that will allow custom made detection equipment to find the right 12 pack, similar to the tilt and win iTunes trick? :)" We mentioned this last year, but it wasn't clear how the GPS-in-a-can trick was going to work.
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GPS Cell Phone in Soda Can Form

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  • by taped2thedesk ( 614051 ) * on Thursday May 06, 2004 @10:57AM (#9073424)
    How will the "no purchase necessary" part of this promo work? I can't see them mailing out cans to people who send in a postcard... or are companies not required to do "no purchase necessary" anymore?
  • zzz (Score:1, Interesting)

    by SparafucileMan ( 544171 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @10:59AM (#9073453)
    One of three buttons connects the winner with a company representative, who will explain that the person has won a Chevrolet Equinox SUV. Pressing a different button activates the GPS beacon, which sends the winner's location to the company...

    So, for $200,000 or so, Coke gets to find out the location of every coke drinker who presses the GPS beacon button...sounds like a steal to me!

  • by Ubergrendle ( 531719 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @10:59AM (#9073463) Journal
    Do i get to keep the GPS enabled phone!?!?!?
  • by WebGangsta ( 717475 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @10:59AM (#9073468)
    I'd guess that the phones would have their batteries isolated to prevent the phones from responding to any pre-purchase scanning. Once you uncork the can, you pull a clear plastic tab out of the battery compartment to activate the phone (similar to the way all those noisy electronic toys displayed on store shelves work).

    Or maybe the battery is only activated when the user holds in the Big Red Button on the front of the phone.

    I can't imagine that Coca-Cola didn't think of all the ways to cheat the system after the McDonald's contest fiasco [] from a few years ago.

  • Re:Cola Contests (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) <.Satanicpuppy. .at.> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:02AM (#9073511) Journal
    I agree that they probably won't leave it turned on.

    However it is possible that you might be able to use some sort of metal detector to find the more unsusual components...The composition has to be completely different. There might be a weight difference as well.

    Hmmmm. Those wall stud detetcors have a setting for detecting electrical current. That might pick up the battery...

    Heh. I'd much rather spend my time trying to find a way to find it without drinking coke, than I would actually buying coke.
  • What If? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr. Troll ( 202208 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:03AM (#9073520) Homepage
    The artical says GSM phone.....what if you live somewhere that has no GSM coverage? I mean, if you aren't near a coast or a heavily populated area, you kinda screwed no?

    Then again, I'm sure they'd just have you call some number otherwise...

    I really should think before I post. /all spelling errors intentional
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:06AM (#9073545)
    The only part of "no purchase necessary" that they need to take care of is making sure that the odds of a postcard winning are the same as the odds of a 12-pack winning.

    Most likely, the cans won't be the actual "game piece". Instead, they'll print up serial-numbered cards, most of which say "You Lose" and one for each car they have will say "You Win!" They'll shuffle up the cards, and then drop one into each specially marked 12-pack and keep a pile aside for the mail-in entries.

    12-packs that get the winning game pieces will also get the cell phone gadget. People who end up with a winning gamepiece in their SASE will get a phone number to call to claim their prize. The key thing will be that the odds of getting a a winning piece instead of a loser has to be the same by both methods... at that point, "no purchase necessary" is taken care of.
  • Re:Cola Contests (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DaHat ( 247651 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:06AM (#9073546) Homepage
    Yes, Pepsi would have already have paid tax on the vehicle it's self. That's sales tax.

    The tax that the winner would pay I believe is capital gains tax. It's the same tax that kicks in if you win the lottery or win any money or anything of value for that matter.

    Yes, it's double dipping but does this surprise you?

    Just remember, there's tax on nearly everything in the US and the gov (either federal, state or local) get's their cut of nearly every transaction.
  • Re:What If? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by isn't my name ( 514234 ) <slash.threenorth@com> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:14AM (#9073629)
    The artical says GSM phone.....what if you live somewhere that has no GSM coverage? I mean, if you aren't near a coast or a heavily populated area, you kinda screwed no?

    Given that the article also says they are going to drive the SUV to you, I would expect that they will know which city the cell-phone is located in. I can't imagine them driving the SUV all the way across the country.

    So, likely it will be released where GSM coverage is available.
  • by JohnnyComeLately ( 725958 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:15AM (#9073642) Homepage Journal
    With new phones coming in a disposable form, then it was soon to follow with advertising phones. Kinda like the USB memory sticks you could get free at CES shows.

    For the technical questions. I'm sure it's going to be similar to existing avenues of phone distribution. The phone is shipped with the battery seperated for safety and electrical reasons. You plug the battery in and the phone will register. The FCC and manufacturers have deemed that cell phones come on with GPS enabled. This ONLY sends the info within the cell phone's system, and if your municipality is equipped then it goes out to E911 when you place a 911 call. Even though the GPS feature is now FCC mandated, most cities can't afford the equipment. The enabling of sending GPS is a new development in the last few months. Carriers have been tossing the idea around of geographically located advertising. For example, Pizza Hut is closing and has two pizzas that someone ordered but never showed. The next two drivers who drive by get a short SMS message saying, "Pizza hut at 15th and Lincoln will sell you a Large pepperoni pizza if you stop in the next 10 minutes"


  • GPS indoors (Score:2, Interesting)

    by theMerovingian ( 722983 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:20AM (#9073699) Journal

    Actually, GPS indoors is rather cutting-edge. It isn't commercially available on a large scale.

    Clicky []

    Disclaimer: Our company sells trimble gps

  • Re:Off the air... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jamonterrell ( 517500 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:22AM (#9073716)
    I'm concerned less with it giving off any emissions rather than it acting differently when having emissions bounced off of it. Different electronic gadgets will alter waves that are bounced off of them in different ways, very much in the way RFIDs work. It's very likely that it can be detected, as a can full of soda would certainly respond differently than a can full of GPS/Cellphone. You could also do the same thing with a sonar-type device configured to measure the density of the material inside the can. The point is, however, it's all pointless because with the amount of coke moved out in the time period that this competition will run is inconceivable. Unless the device were screaming "I'M OVER HERE, OH YEAH, AND I'M THE WINNING COKE CAN" you aren't likely to find it even if you're in the same store as it, at the same time as it happens to be passing through.
    Oh yeah, and to address the other post regarding them knowing the approximate location so they can rush out to it when they press the button. I say good luck to them with that. I'd find it very funny if the person who gets it happens to pick up a 12pack just before returning on a flight from Miama, FL, to Portland, OR. That'd mess up their plans to seem all cool by rushing out to the site of the can within 10-20 minutes with a TV crew, now woudln't it? :)
  • by thomasdelbert ( 44463 ) <> on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:31AM (#9073852)
    Sound: If you shook the can with the phone in it, would it rattle or would it slosh like a normal coke can full of coke?

    Heat capacity: when you pull the can out of the fridge at the store, does it stay cold for more than 10 seconds? A can full of mostly water (coke) will stay cold and a can full of mostly air (phone) will not.

    Pressure: squeeze a can - if it's full of carbonic acid (coke), it won't squeeze as easily as if it's filled with air.

    I could go on....

    Now I can imagine all these kids shaking coke cans at the store, and hapless customers openning them afterwards without tapping the top...

    - Thomas;
  • Yes... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by OmniGeek ( 72743 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:33AM (#9073889)
    Yes, a turned-off cell phone DOES give off detectable radiation. Reason is, there are parts of the phone circuit that are still powered so the phone can recognize the "soft" power button in the keyboard (unlike a hard power switch that actually disconnects the power, this one's just a keyboard switch.) Sooo, there's at least a minimal amount of circuitry with a crystal clock oscillator running and radiating a small amount of RF. That is, in a conventional phone. Probably the manufacturer of this specialized gadget did a true hard power switch to ensure that the battery is live when it's needed, but possibly not. Of course, the task of DETECTING that RF emission may well be impossible given the EMI environment of a warehouse or store, and not knowing exactly what frquency to sniff for.
  • It's been done. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:34AM (#9073892)
    You may notice from perusing the FCC documents linked from the PhoneScoop page that the company that designed the phone is Australian. This promotion was "playtested" last year in Australia, but instead of a can the phone was embedded inside a 1.25L bottle of coke. The bottle contained compartments in the top and bottom full of coke as normal so that it could be picked up and handled without anyone thinking anything was strange and the middle of the phone unscrewed along a seam at the bottom of the label to reveal the phone.

    The developers went to great lengths to ensure that the prize bottle weighed exactly the same as a regular bottle.
  • Microwave it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spectrokid ( 660550 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @11:40AM (#9073987) Homepage
    One of the most spectacular kold-war stunts was when the ruskies gave a wooden statue to the U.S. Embassy. It was of couse thouroughly scanned for mikes and found clean. Turned out the thing had a passive mike in it. The russians would bomb it with microwaves from a nearby building and this would cause the statue to start working like a transmitter. Maybe if you bomb the cans with microwaves, you get them to react?
  • by deft ( 253558 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @01:02PM (#9075003) Homepage
    i won the really old coke can instant win game, where I opened a can of coke, and a 10 dollar bill popped out of the can, spring loaded and rolled into a tiny holder.

    The can was identical to the others in every way. I could hear liquid sloshing around in it (still does, still have it), it had weight like a full can.... I cant remember if it had a pressurized noise when it opened, but i think it did.

    They can do a good job of hiding contents.
  • Re:Microwave it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ricklow ( 124377 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @01:52PM (#9075489)
    It was a two-foot wide wooden sculpture of the great seal of the United States, complete with a microwave resonant cavity, modulator and antenna.

    Details are here. []
  • by thpdg ( 519053 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @03:12PM (#9076298) Journal
    I worked at a printer for a few days one summer, and did cards for a Snapple cap game. These were the cards that you could mail and request for no-purchase necessary. They were VERY careful about counting. Every stack was checked again and again. There were agents there to keep watch, and the grand prize winner cards, of which there were enough that all of the winners could be mail-in, were checked and rechecked around breaktime and quitting time. It was VERY stressful, to say the least, but a bit of insight anyway.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982