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NFC Tags Take to the Slopes on Ski Jackets

Spyder is testing Near Field Communication technology in some of its U.S. Ski Team jackets to engage with consumers, by providing links to social media, as well as information about the jackets, the ski team and local skiing.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 21, 2016

For the past few months, buyers of U.S. Ski Team (USST) jackets from the Spyder Active Sports apparel brand have been able to use Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to access information about the jackets, the ski team and local skiing. Spyder is trialing the system, with an NFC tag built into each jacket, to determine how well consumers enjoy receiving the information that the apparel company can provide via the tag. The solution allows consumers to access content from the products in-store or at home, by tapping an NFC-enabled smartphone or tablet against the Spyder logo on the jackets. They can then engage with social-media sites, such as YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, as well as view information regarding the USST, local snow conditions, trail maps and regional events.

Spyder, a ski and performance apparel and accessory brand operated by Global Brands Group, provides apparel worldwide and has been sponsoring the U.S. Ski Team for 27 years, says Julia Hansen, Spyder Active Sports' president and CEO. Beginning with its first padded ski sweater in 1978, she says, Spyder has been striving to provide technology innovation along with fashion and functionality.

Spyder Active Sports' Julia Hansen
"We are always searching for potential brand-building consumer experiences that are unique to Spyder," Hansen says. Brands rarely offer authentic team or athlete apparel while also providing technology that opens a conversation with those athletes, she explains. "Our consumers are an extension of this brand, and the ability to enhance their experience with our [ski team] athletes is invaluable."

The company recently decided to begin testing NFC in a small line of products, and plans to expand the technology's use if it is well received by consumers this ski season. "The U.S. Ski Team NFC collection is a small assortment of jackets that is allowing us to test and determine how we could employ this technology into other categories," Hansen says.

The solution consists of a Smartrac Dura NFC tag, based on NXP Semiconductors' NTAG213 tag, as well as Smartrac's Smart Cosmos Platform and CX software, through a partnership with mobile marketing solutions company Blue Bite, according to Corey Wilson, Smartrac's VP of global business development. Users do not require an app to interact with the NFC tag—only a tablet or phone with a built-in NFC reader.

When a user taps his or her smartphone next to the tag, the reader captures that tag's unique ID number, prompting the phone to access Spyder's webpage. There, the individual can access information regarding the USST and its members, and view data specific to the user's location, such as ski slope conditions. After purchasing the jacket, the user can register it for authentication and warranty purposes, by tapping the phone against the tag and selecting the prompts provided on the website. The customer can also view historical purchase information if he or she has ordered multiple products.

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