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U.K. Company Kiroco Adorns Its Jewelry With RFID-Delivered Messages

The firm's Touch technology allows buyers of its pendants and charms to add text or video greetings that recipients can access via a tap of an NFC-enabled phone.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 28, 2014

British jewelry company Kiroco, a two-and-a-half-year-old startup, has released its first products: jewelry that employs Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID technology to deliver personal messages. The technology, known as "Kiroco Touch," consists of an NFC tag built into each piece of jewelry, enabling consumers to buy a charm or pendant as a gift, and to create a video or text message for the recipient, who can then access that message by tapping an NFC-enabled phone against the item.

The technology was devised by the company's founder, Nigel Townsend, a jeweler and the owner of Townsend Fine Jewellers, located in Weatherby, Yorkshire County. During the past few years, Townsend has observed an industry-wide decline in jewelry sales, as consumers are increasingly spending money on electronic gadgets, such as smartphones and tablets. To target these consumers, he conceived of a solution that would gel technology with jewelry, by allowing jewelry buyers to create and store cloud-based personal messages that would be available only to an intended recipient possessing both the jewelry and a phone approved to read the tag built into it.

When a gift recipient taps her NFC-enabled smartphone against a piece of Kiroco jewelry, the Kiroco Touch app displays a message from the individual who purchased that gift.
The products consist largely of bracelets, charms and pendants, all manufactured by Kiroco. An NFC chip and antenna are built into all of the company's charms and pendants, composed of crystal and sterling silver—or, in the case of one product, white metal. The solution's creation required more than two years of research and development, according to Fiona Cartwright, Kiroco's U.K. sales and marketing director. The challenge, she explains, was to figure out a means of embedding an NFC tag that would transmit through metal—a solution for which the company now has patents pending. Cartwright says the company is working with multiple NFC RFID tag vendors, though she declines to name them, or to describe the tag-embedding method.

Kiroco's products are available through the company's website. To send a message, a jewelry purchaser creates a username and a password to open an account, and then inputs the telephone number of the gift's recipient, so that her smartphone is the only one authorized to read the tag built into that piece of jewelry. The buyer can then input text (up to 140 characters) or record a 10-second video message that is stored on a cloud-based server, along with the username, the password and the recipient's phone number.

Before shipping the item to the customer, a Kiroco staff member uses an NFC-enabled mobile phone to read the item's RFID tag, thereby linking the tag's ID number with the details of the order. This includes the buyer's information and message, as well as the phone number authorized to read that tag.

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