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Hong Kong RFID Ltd. Markets Tapogram NFC App, Tags

The app enables consumers with NFC-based mobile phones to record verbal greetings or information that can be played back to others who tap a specific NFC RFID tag.
By Claire Swedberg
May 21, 2013

RFID hardware manufacturer and distributor Hong Kong RFID Ltd. is marketing a Near Field Communication (NFC) mobile app to allow users of the technology to store and access audio recordings via an NFC RFID tag. The app is free to download, but Hong Kong RFID has also set up an online store at which visitors can purchase passive NFC RFID tags for use with the app, as well as NFC-enabled smartphones.

Users can simply download the Tapogram app (available for free at Google Play), and then install it on an Android smartphone and purchase NFC tags from Hong Kong RFID Ltd.'s NFC Shop online store, or at another venue. To record a message, a user taps the mobile phone against the tag and is prompted to begin recording a voice message (known as a "Tapo") that can be up to 10 seconds in length. The app uploads the message to the Tapogram server, hosted by Hong Kong RFID. The user can then apply an RFID sticker to a gift or other item, or at a location such as a doorway. After the gift's recipient downloads the app, the individual can then tap his or her NFC-enabled phone against the tag. The app transmits the tag's ID number to the Tapogram server via the Internet, accesses the audio recording and plays it on that person's phone.

Visitors to the NFC Shop online store can purchase RFID stickers, apply them to greeting cards and other items, and use the Tapogram app to record a message to accompany each card.

According to Craig Jo, Hong Kong RFID Ltd.'s business development director, an audio recording—as opposed to a text or printed message—offers a more personalized or emotional experience. For example, he says, it would be more romantic to hear someone say "I love you" than to read a note containing those same words.

The Tapogram is a new focus for Hong Kong RFID, which has traditionally provided solutions for corporate clientele. "That was when NFC or RFID was not yet popular among general end consumers," Jo explains. "Now that the smartphone market has driven more awareness to RFID and NFC, we saw a market space which we can explore and see if any business opportunity exists." He adds, "It is much easier to promote RFID when everyone has a reader [an NFC-enabled phone] on hand."

End users have been rapidly developing their own use cases for the solution, Jo reports. For example, for a gift, a user can record a personal message to the recipient, apply the tag to the gift and then direct the recipient to tap his or her phone against the tag in order to hear the message— such as "happy birthday"—in the sender's own voice. It can also be used to record to-do lists that can be applied within a user's home, indicating that he or she has completed a series of tasks. This function, Jo notes, can be provided to children when parents want to leave instructions for when they return home from school, such as "do your homework" or "water the plants." The tag could also be applied to a dog's collar, to verbally provide the animal's name and the owner's phone number. What's more, it would work with a photo album, recording audio details to accompany pictures.

Upon creating a Tapo, a user can choose whether or not to share it with others. If unshared, the Tapo can be played only by the specific phone that launched the recording; otherwise, the recording is accessible by anyone equipped with an NFC reader and the Tapogram app.

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