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Web Portal Offers NFC-enabled Media on Demand

The TagAge Web site, created by Hansaprint and UPM Raflatac, lets businesses and consumers design and order their own printed and encoded NFC-enabled labels, cards and posters.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 11, 2009Finnish printing products and services company Hansaprint and RFID tag manufacturer UPM Raflatac have teamed up to establish TagAge, a Web portal that provides printed paper or plastic labels, stickers, cards, hangtags and posters with embedded Near Field Communication (NFC) tags to customers worldwide, through online orders. The new Web portal, launched on Sept. 3, allows a user to order thousands of printed NFC-enabled items, or just a few, customized the way that buyer sees fit.

The system is intended to meet a growing demand for media containing embedded NFC tags that Hansaprint's management predicts will correspond with sales of NFC-enabled mobile phones to consumers in the coming years. As NFC-enabled phones are predicted to be manufactured more commonly worldwide in the next few years, says Hansaprint's development manager, Tommi Katila, there are currently very few options available for those who might want to use their phones as NFC readers by purchasing a few NFC-integrated printed products.

An example of a smart poster created by TagAge

Hansaprint decided to introduce the idea of a Web portal for smaller, customized orders of NFC-integrated printed products during a 2008 NFC Forum competition—an annual event hosted by the organization to promote the development and deployment of innovative NFC services. The idea was selected by the NFC Forum to be presented that year, Katila says, and was ultimately awarded second place in the competition. Based on the interest generated from that presentation, the company then approached UPM Raflatac early in 2009, and the two firms formed a partnership that led to the creation of TagAge.

Glued to the back of each NFC-integrated printed item is a UPM Raflatac passive 13.56 MHz RFID inlay that complies with the ISO 14443A standard, as well as NFC standards. (Although the portal is currently set up only for NFC tags, TagAge can also provide printed items with embedded UHF EPC Gen 2 tags, upon request.)

Jouko Aumasalo, UPM Raflatac's business development director
With the portal, customers can order posters, business cards, labels, hangtags, disposable tickets, windshield stickers or conference badges, as well as other options. All of the items are plastic, with the exception of posters, which are made of paper but are coated with a protective layer to enhance their appearance and make them more suitable for outdoor use. The labels and smaller cards are available with an adhesive backing so they can be attached to various surfaces. The tags embedded in the adhesive cards and labels, however, will not function if applied to metal, says Jouko Aumasalo, UPM Raflatac's business development director, though such a tag could be provided for a customized application.

A user creates his or her own print layout by first uploading a JPG, GIF or PSD image file. The user chooses either a 35-millimeter-wide (1.4-inch wide) circular BullsEye inlay (containing either a Mifare Ultralight chip with 512 bits, or a Mifare Standard chip with 1 kilobyte of read/write memory) or a 45-by-76-millimeter (1.8-by-3-inch) rectangular RaceTrack inlay (also available with either a Mifare Ultralight or Standard chip). The user indicates the tag's position (known as the NFC-enabled hotspot) in his or her requested smart product, then inputs the information that should be encoded to the tag (a URL or phone number, for instance).

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