The idea behind Fliike is clear: It's a device that can be placed on store counters or in cafe windows to count the business's Facebook "likes" in real time. The higher the number, the more a new customer might be inclined to step through the door.
"It's like showing how many stars you have on TripAdvisor, or that you've been selected by Lonely Planet as a cool bar to visit. It's the digital equivalent of a full restaurant (more likes) vs. an empty one (few likes)," says Gauthier Nadaud, CEO of Smiirl, the Paris-based technology and design firm that developed Fliike.
The device connects via Wi-Fi to a business's Facebook account. Observers can then watch the company's reputation ratchet up via Fliike's old-school, analog flip display, reminiscent of a train-station schedule board.
No one has been able to decisively quantify the value of a Facebook thumbs-up, although various sources have reported it at anywhere from zero to $137. Still, that hasn't stopped Thomas Holmes, whose family owns Fitzpatrick's Irish Pub in Montpellier, France, from plunking down $390 to preorder a Fliike. "We hope that it will inspire visitors to the bar to connect with us on Facebook," he says. "It is an ingenious way to connect the physical premises with the virtual world."