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Dunkin' Donuts temps S Korea with ultrasonic tags

'Tell your friends about your, ahem, sugared dough breakfast'

Korean commuters are being enticed into eating baked goods for breakfast with ultrasonic tags, making them race to Dunkin' Donuts for discounts and social sharing.

Wanting to push up morning consumption Dunkin' Donuts has resorted to filling its stores with ultrasound so smartphone-wielding Koreans can confirm their arrival and get discounted meals, assuming they managed to get out of bed quickly enough.

A smartphone app lets Koreans pick from the Dunkin' Donuts menu and then starts counting down the minutes until the discount coupon expires. An ultrasonic tone in the store is picked up by the smartphone mic, allowing the app to know the user has arrived and triggering a discount coupon, as demonstrated in this upbeat video.

NFC or even GPS would work much the same way, but ultrasound is simple and very compatible. The microphone on a phone can pick up very high tones which are unlikely to bother anyone but the keenest dog ear, and dogs shouldn't be hanging round the counter of a food shop anyway.

Customers get three hours to make it through the doors, which should be enough for the worst of commutes; late risers might even stretch the offer into elevenses.

A trial run in Seoul has proved successful enough to prompt a national rollout, to around 100 stores across South Korea, making it even less likely one will fail to reach an outlet in the requisite three hours.

Dunkin' is no stranger to the more innovative kind of marketing, as befits someone competing against Starbucks (which has more than three times as many stores in Korea). Last year the company deployed smell dispensers in buses, triggered by the sound of the Dunkin' jingle to dispense the scent of freshly-brewed coffee, resulting in an uptick in sales (near bus stops) of 29 per cent according to this equally upbeat presentation. ®

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