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Smart Hangers With NFC Help Shoppers Find Their Fit

The BlueGriot NFC hanger, on display at Galeries Lafayette, provides shoppers with an automated way to locate the right size of a garment and request it in a fitting room.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 06, 2020

French technology company BlueGriot is commercializing a Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled in-store display hanger that captures data about the clothes hanging on it, then displays that data on a built-in screen, thereby sharing information about the product and any related sizes and styles available at the store. By using dual-frequency RFID tags, stores can capture both UHF RFID data for inventory management, as well as NFC RFID data for the consumer experience.

The solution can automatically detect which item is hanging on a hanger and link that information to UHF-based inventory data regarding what other garments are in stock. Thus, shoppers can better understand what clothing items are available without having to seek out a salesperson for help or pull out a phone to look up products available for sale online.

BlueGriot's NFC hanger
The solution was developed for Galeries Lafayette, located on Paris's Avenue des Champs-Élysées, to let shoppers quickly access the right size, style or color of a product they would like to try on, while a minimal number of garments are actually on display. The store is using 2,000 hangers on its first floor (see IoT Companies Moving to Open Standards). Bluegriot is now in conversations with several luxury clothing brands that may pilot the technology as well.

Galeries Lafayette describes the smart hanger-based display at its store as a way to reinvent the customer experience. Instead of customers having to search through display products to find the right color and size, says Rudy Houque, Bluegriot's founder, that effort can be done for them with the help of the hanger. According to Houque, the retailer sought a technology-based solution that would identify stock availability for each garment, then share that information and other product details with shoppers.

Bluegriot was launched three years ago to create smart objects, with a team of electronic and mechanical engineers, industrial designers and software developers, in order to build custom Internet of Things (IoT)-based solutions for industrial, medical and retail solutions. It provided sensors for traceability with GPS, while also working with microphones and accelerometers to manage how a machine is operating and when a failure could be imminent. In addition, the system is being designed for medial solutions, to track how individuals sleep. More recently, the company designed software to manage data derived from the hardware

For this retail deployment, the IoT startup began working to develop a hanger. The firm opted to use RFID for its ability to uniquely identify products. There was already an RFID label on each item, however, to enable inventory and supply chain management. The store, like many others, was receiving UHF RFID tags already attached to products from brands, and it was using that data to manage its own inventory. However, Houque says, UHF wouldn't work with the hanger. A UHF reader would be too expense and would consume considerable energy, he notes, so the 13.56 MHz HF frequency was required. Ultimately, the company opted for NFC technology compliant with the ISO 14443 standard.

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