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Swedish Men's Shirts Provide Off-the-Cuff Info

Four Levent has begun manufacturing and marketing men's dress shirts with sewn-in NFC RFID tags, enabling users to write data such as business card information that others can retrieve via a smartphone.
By Claire Swedberg

However, Gunnarsson notes, the greater value for the shirt owner is in the ability to write additional data to the tag. To do this, the owner would need to download a free app—for example, the NFC TagWriter by NXP app for Android phones, or the Nokia NFC Writer app for Microsoft Windows phones. The app would then enable him to write data to the tag. To do so, he would tap the phone against the tag, then follow instructions to write information, such as his company name, URL or e-mail address. Gunnarsson, who wears his own products, says he has written data including his website's URL to one cuff's tag, and his other business-card information to the other cuff.

However, Gunnarsson says, the tag can be used for other functions as well. For example, some customers have programmed the tag to put their mobile phone into and out of silent mode as they enter or leave a business meeting.

Every cuff in a Four Levent shirt has an embedded NFC RFID tag that a wearer can use to store and transmit contact information or other data, via an NFC-enabled mobile phone.
Another of Four Levent's clients is interested in using the shirt for access control. For example, that firm could set up an NFC-enabled lock at its office's entrance, and provide the shirts to its employees. When an employee taps his sleeve cuff against the NFC reader built into the lock, the door would automatically unlock if the NFC tag was authenticated. Gunnarsson notes that California NFC-enabled lock technology firm Lockitron manufactures the kind of technology that would work with the tags.

To ensure that the NFC tag would last for the duration of the shirt's lifetime, Four Levent put it through testing that included laundering and tumble-drying, under conditions that he says "would ruin the shirt" before they appeared to damage the tag. The company also tested the tag to ensure it would not create problems with airport screening technology.

According to Gunnarsson, since the shirts' release last month, the company has sold them primarily in Sweden, but also in the United States, Portugal, Poland and Belgium. He says customers are still suggesting use cases for the tag, adding, "It's really intended to be fun—it makes doing business more interesting."

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