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NFC RFID Technology Puts the Squeeze on Accordion Thieves, Counterfeiters

A Finnish accordion merchant is using a solution from FinnCode to track the sale and servicing of the instruments his store sells.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 05, 2013

When a musical instrument is sold, both the buyer and the seller face unknowns. The buyer must trust that the instrument is authentic, but the seller may also have to rely on faith that when a malfunctioning instrument is returned to the store, it has been properly serviced up to that point, and thus meets the requirements of any warranty. Kristian Hyyppä, an accordion performer and the owner of Giulietti—a Finnish company that imports and resells Giulietti accordions in Europe—plans to add some authentication to the process, thanks to an RFID-based solution that will help authorized parties guarantee the history of his firm's accordions via a Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled mobile phone. The solution, known as RE-AD INFO, was developed by Finnish company FinnCode Ltd.

Hyyppä's store, located in Seinäjoki, Finland, sells accordions at prices between €2,000 and €20,000 ($2,700 and $27,000). Each instrument comes with a three-year warranty; however, that warranty becomes nullified if the owner fails to have the instrument serviced after the first year of use. Of course, proof that such service did or did not occur can often be difficult for a customer to provide, or for Hyyppä to confirm. Because the instruments are of such high value, there are concerns for customers as well. For one thing, if an instrument is lost or stolen and is later retrieved by police or another party, it can be nearly impossible to identify the instrument and its rightful owner if its serial number has been destroyed or removed. What's more, proving the instrument's value to insurance companies can also prove challenging.

An owner of FinnCode's NFC-enabled teddy bear can access personalized messages by tapping her NFC-enabled phone against the RFID-tagged heart that the stuffed animal is holding.

The solution from FinnCode consists of NFC tags applied inside the instrument, as well as access to FinnCode's RE-AD INFO service, hosted on the company's own server. A store or manufacturer pays a one-time fee to enter an instrument into the service, and can then pass that cost on to customers if it so chooses. Once that is done, anyone equipped with an NFC phone or reader and an authorized password can then view or update information regarding a particular instrument.

FinnCode Ltd. was launched in May 2012 to provide advertising services enabled by NFC RFID or QR-code technology, according to Jari Salmela, the company's cofounder. Advertisers can use the service to enable potential customers to read a QR code or an NFC RFID tag, and to then be provided with promotional data that could be updated as necessary. For example, a Finnish dairy company is utilizing the service with QR codes on milk cartons, in order to enable users to access advertisements that might change based on the time of day deemed the most appropriate to customers.

In May of this year, the company also released an NFC-enabled teddy bear that links the toy animal's owner with personal data from a friend or loved one. For example, a woman who receives a bear can tap her NFC-enabled phone against the stuffed heart that the animal is holding. The phone captures the unique ID number of an NFC RFID tag built into the heart, and is directed to the RE-AD server, causing the phone to display personal messages from the sender. She also receives alerts on her phone when her bear has new messages for her. The teddy bear is currently being sold at some stores in Finland, as well as on FinnCode's Web site.

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