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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
To date, Flomio reports that it has sold its 3D Printable items in small quantities directly to buyers, for them to sample with a variety of solutions. "No large deployments have come about yet," Grundy notes, "although we have had several mobile gaming companies interested [in addition to Plow Digital], and are excited to work with them to bring more ideas to life."

In addition, Flomio is selling a beta version of the Gema Tag—produced by Gema Touch—containing five RFID inlays manufactured with NXP Semiconductors' Mifare Ultralight chip. Each RFID inlay can be rendered operable at the press of a button. A user could place his or her NFC-enabled phone on the tag and receive different content, depending on which button was pressed on the tag, and thus which inlay it read. The Gema Tag could be embedded in a poster, a flyer or a magazine page.

Plow Digital's Greg Phillips
Flomio is also working with Kyp to build tailored solutions as part of Kyp's printed marketing product offering that utilizes Flomio's NFC Actions technology. NFC Actions is an Android app that would enable Kyp's customers to write instructions to NFC tags in order to open a URL, check Foursquare or perform other actions. In this way, recipients of a mailer or flyer could use an NFC phone to access considerably more targeted information than is printed on the page. NFC tags built into such mailers or pages, Grundy explains, could provide an alternative to the USB stick many marketers distribute to share large amounts of data regarding a product or service in a small space.

A new company known as Capify intends to sell baseball caps with built-in NFC tags that also utilize Flomio's NFC Actions app to direct a user's NFC phone to a Web site, a video about a team whose logo is printed on the front of the cap, an individual's URL or other data. Those caps are expected to be available later this year, the company reports, though small quantities are currently available for purchase at Flomio's Web site.

For all of its use cases, Flomio is employing NFC RFID chips supplied by Verayo, Kovio or Texas Instruments.

The FloJack, manufacturing of which is slated to commence at the end of this month, will include another Flomio innovation: a tag sniffer. The reader remains dormant while the sniffer sends very small pulses of energy through FloJack's antenna. The sniffer measures how that power decays (a slow decay rate would indicate no tag being present, while a fast rate would signify a tag's presence), in order to determine if a tag is in the vicinity. If one is, then the sniffer activates the reader to begin transmitting a signal to interrogate the tag. This saves the life of the FloJack's internal 3-volt lithium battery, the company reports.

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