Will Robison of text-to-buy startup Subports was interviewed on Open Forum by Miles Klee of The Awl.
Klee asked Robison if he has any retail experiments in mind that he can’t quite pull off just yet? His answer is interesting, to say the least.
Text-to-buy and helping our sellers sell anywhere is our focus right now, and most of our time is spent to make that an excellent product. But we have played with and discussed other fun under-utilized technologies like self-tinting glass for window displays, RFID readers, retinal and fingerprint scanners and bone conduction to enhance the retail experience. Of those, my favorite is bone conduction. Bone conduction is so magical and basically it allows the transfer of sound to be heard via vibrations and not through sound waves. An application for this technology would be creating a bone conduction ring that worked on blue tooth and connected to a mobile GPS app. It would be able to send the person wearing the ring vibrating bits of information along the bones in a finger. When the finger is placed behind the earlobe, the information can be heard inside the skull and the person would hear it even if they were standing next to a booming speaker at a club. The information could range from useful coupons, to notifications of killer stores in the persons location, to teasers of new music. It’s a very sexy way to get info while the mobile device is tucked away in a pocket or purse. To me an occasional vibrating finger that whispers secrets inside your head is much more appealing than receiving mass emails from the big retailers every day in my inbox. I have had conversations with a company in Japan that can produce the ring. I know it sounds far-fetched, but so did text-to-buy when I started Subports.