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Blue Bite Launches NFC Solution for Providing Content to Cell Phones

The company is deploying NFC stickers at shops, clubs and other places of business, enabling mobile handset users to receive information and promotional offers, in partnership with digital-media firm RMG Networks.
By Claire Swedberg
May 04, 2011A mobile advertising system is initially being deployed in San Francisco—with other U.S. cities slated to follow during the coming weeks—using a technology that allows consumers who have NFC-enabled phones (such as Google's Nexus S) to access information, promotional materials and coupons by tapping their phones against NFC-enabled placards. The mTag system—developed by Blue Bite, a four-year-old provider of location-based mobile-marketing solutions—is being offered in partnership with Reach Media Group (RMG) Networks, a business that provides place-based news and entertainment, such as television programming, on digital signs and video screens throughout the United States.

The mTag placard currently measures 8 inches by 5 inches and has an adhesive layer on one side, with a logo, a Quick Response (QR) 2-D bar code and text, such as "tap here," printed on the other. The size of the placard might change with different applications, however. Embedded in each mTag placard is a passive 13.56 MHz passive RFID tag complying with the Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID standards. Blue Bite is presently testing several different NFC tag models, and has yet to select an NFC tag provider.

David Bruce of RMG Networks
RMG Networks' digital out-of-home (DOOH) video screens are installed at businesses and in public places at which consumers typically have lengthy dwell times, such as coffee shops, health clubs and airports. The system, according to David Bruce, the company's VP of marketing, provides video content and advertising, with more than 200,000 display screens of a variety of sizes and form factors, depending on where they are installed, and with more than 70 million monthly viewers.

For the Blue Bite deployment, the RMG display will occasionally show videos informing customers that they can tap their NFC-enabled phones against a nearby mTag sticker (typically mounted at the point of sale, or at some other high-dwell-time location within the store) to access advertising data, coupons or other materials. When a phone is tapped against the mTag sticker, the tag's unique ID number is captured by the NFC reader in the mobile phone, which forwards that information to a Blue Bite server. Blue Bite's proprietary system knows exactly where that customer is located, and delivers targeted content to the phone, based on that particular sticker's location. Consumers currently lack an NFC-enabled phone can use their phone's camera to scan the QR 2-D bar code printed on the same mTag, which will then direct them to identical content.

Sometime during the next six months, says Daniel Trigub, Blue Bite's VP of business development, the company expects to have installed its mTag stickers at 75,000 sites at which RMG Networks' display screens are already in operation, throughout San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston. Each tag will be installed within sight of an RMG display screen, he notes.

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