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Flomio Brings NFC RFID to 3D Objects

The company has launched a service in which it manufactures figurines and other three-dimensional plastic objects with embedded RFID tags, for applications that include marketing and gaming.
By Claire Swedberg
For example, says Greg Phillips, a partner at Plow Digital, Audi is presently in talks with his firm regarding the use of Flomio's NFC technology and Plow Digital games as part of a new vehicle launch, with a small figurine containing a built-in NFC RFID tag. Guests at the launch could receive the figurine upon checking in, at which time they would provide a name and other information, and then proceed to participate in games or contests at stations throughout the facility, thereby creating a scorecard with accumulated points that could earn that person a reward. Teams could be synched together, with their total earnings added up in Plow Digital's software.

In another use-case, a beer brand may offer the technology for attendees at music festivals, allowing them to play games in order to earn a free beer—once they provide identification proving they are 21 years of age or older.

Flomio uses a 3D printer to manufacture plastic objects (like this figurine) with an embedded NFC RFID inlay.
According to Phillip, Plow Digital already sells NFC solutions with such items as cards or wristbands, in addition to readers supplied by several NFC technology providers, to enable users with NFC-enabled cards or other objects to access digital content or games in places where readers are installed. However, he says, the company's clients often prefer to keep details regarding their solutions to themselves, believing their ideas to be so innovative that describing them could eliminate their competitive edge.

The 3D Printable system follows Activision Blizzard's Skylanders concept, in which players acquire NFC RFID-enabled figurines representing characters in the video game (see NFC Technology Brings New Life to Games). Game consoles require an RFID reader that can be plugged into the game console, and players' characters are interrogated by the reader in order to determine who is playing, as well as his or her score. "We take that same concept and make it mobile," Grundy says, by enabling users to play games away from their console, either at an NFC-enabled kiosk or on a mobile phone or tablet.

Plow Digital and other gaming companies are offering marketing solutions based on Flomio's 3D Printable technology. For example, upon arriving at a concert, festival or marketing event, an individual acquires a 3D item, such as a squishy ball or a plastic bottle cap, branded by an advertising company. The user can then take that object (which has an embedded NFC RFID tag) around the site and play games with NFC readers, earning points and then perhaps redeeming them for rewards, such as a free drink. Those with NFC-enabled phones could use their handsets (instead of the 3D item) to play the same games, or utilize the handset or a tablet as a reader, along with the 3D item, to continue playing on a phone after the event concludes.

Plow Digital utilizes Flomio's cloud-based server and software, which, in turn, implements Plow Digital's interactive gaming technology. Data related to every transaction—and, therefore, the points earned for each item—would be collected and calculated on Flomio's cloud-based server. Other data could also be connected that would provide such analytics as when, and in what order, individuals reached specific game sites.

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