dwinQ RFID Social Media Platform Wins Gold at London Olympics

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Aug 06, 2012 @ 05:04 PM

Tags: RFID, Smart Displays, Social Media, Social Networks

dwinq LondonIt’s hard to say which event has been the most thrilling to watch; men’s swimming knowing that this may be Michael Phelps’ last Olympic hurrah, Usain Bolt setting an Olympic record in the 100-meter dash, or the fierce competitions in sports that we usually don’t get to see like fencing and water polo.

In the middle of ‘the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat’, of the London Olympics, we are also excited to hear of RFID-enabled social media’s place on the medal stand.

As the Official Treat Provider to the London 2012 Olympics, Cadbury has created Cadbury House – inflatable purple domes in Hyde Park where guests can easily share their experiences with friends and family. With a passive UHF RFID system created by dwinQ, guests at the Cadbury House can immediately link photos of their Olympic visit via their Facebook pages – creating a seamless (or as dwinQ calls it – frictionless) social media experience.  

Here’s how it works: RFID Journal explains that guests are given badges that contain EPC Gen 2 passive UHF RFID tags. They then register their Facebook account information which is linked to the unique identification number encoded in the badge's RFID tag. When guests enter one of the Cadbury Houses, they can check in, simply by having the badge near a check-in kiosk, each outfitted with ThingMagic readers.  

Once the first reader has checked-in a guest, he or she can simply go to any pre-determined location throughout the park, such as a photo area. The RFID reader in that area captures the tag's unique ID number in the badge, communicates the information to Dwinq's social-media platform, which then links the appropriate badge ID with the right Facebook account, and posts an update on the person's page.

Since the 2012 Games began, Cadbury House has been receiving approximately 3,500 visitors daily. The Company expects 50,000 guests to check-in over two weeks, which means that the Cadbury House Olympic experience will reach a huge number of people through social media channels. According to the press release, “The solution creates fun for guests while simultaneously amplifying Cadbury's brand messaging to hundreds of thousands of people beyond the event attendees.”

Once again we see that RFID + Social Media = Reach.

This is reminiscent of a similar experience offered at RFID Journal LIVE! a couple of years ago where attendees could extend their event experience over social media. Our case study, “Building Brand Loyalty and Reach through RFID and Social Media” can be downloaded here.  

For more information, check out dwinQ’s blog post on their Olympic experience. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to “Like” ThingMagic and dwinQ on Facebook!

The Connection Between RFID and Social Networks Gets Deeper

Posted by Ken Lynch on Tue, Jun 12, 2012 @ 11:34 AM

Tags: RFID, Sports & Entertainment, Social Networks

Social MediaSocial networking channels have demonstrated again and again that they have very practical uses - both in the personal and business realms. It seems as though we pass some sort of milestone on a regular basis. Just when it seems like I’ve heard about all of the potential uses, there comes another one, quickly followed by another and another.

Our good friend and business partner, Patrick Sweeney provided another example recently about connecting the physical and online worlds, however the kinks still need to be ironed out. It’s a great idea to be able to share your Red Sox experience with your friends who aren’t in attendance, but at the 100th anniversary game, the check-in option and being able to upload photos to Facebook via smart phones weren’t working too well that day. Apparently there was a bandwidth bottleneck; too many people trying to do the same thing in the same place. Patrick asked us to imagine a more seamless experience. Excellent idea, though I’m thinking Yankee Stadium will have this type of innovative solution deployed long before Fenway figures it out, making the baseball experience in New York even better than it already is. Sorry Boston!

In another example, RFID Journal recently reported that LifeSynk Ltd. is launching an RFID solution that would link brick-and-mortar stores, consumer products and events to the online world via social media channels. By updating a Facebook status regarding a certain product, or checking in at a certain store, retailers can offer those individuals special promotions and discounts that are targeted to their preferences. For events, people can “like” a band or song on Facebook and receive a credit for those songs on iTunes, for example. LifeSynk reports that the benefit for retailers and event organizers is greater visibility via online social networks. We have seen similar implementations where the benefits go beyond increased visibility to being able to build and achieve brand loyalty, which translates into repeat sales. Now that’s success!

A very recent and impactful example of connecting the physical and online worlds made headlines when Facebook introduced a feature for people to register as organ donors and promote their choice on the profile pages. According to a BusinessWeek story, the same day the Facebook feature was publicized, 6,000 people had registered in 22 states. Normally, less than 400 people sign up in the 22 states combined.

Businesses can no longer ignore the power of social networks and the role that RFID can play. It’s about expanding reach and influence well beyond traditional boundaries. People are connecting on a more frequent and deeper level and RFID can play a very prominent role in turning those experiences into successes.  The Internet of Things just got bigger.

ThingMagic Named Frost & Sullivan ‘Mover & Shaker’

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Oct 17, 2011 @ 11:27 AM

Tags: RFID, Smart Displays, GPS, Social Networks

Frost & SullivanAnalyst firm Frost & Sullivan recently featured ThingMagic and General Manager, Tom Grant as one of its much acclaimed Movers & Shakers. In their Movers and Shakers interviews, Frost & Sullivan places the spotlight on dynamic companies and leaders recognized for achieving milestones such as launching a breakthrough technology or implementing a revolutionary vision for the future of their industries. Needless to say we are very appreciative of being asked to participate.

Frost & Sullivan’s interview with ThingMagic explores interest in our business since being acquired by Trimble.  As a division of Trimble, we are now in a better position to deliver UHF RFID products and solutions to the marketplace. As Grant said in the interview, “We have not changed post the acquisition, we have just become stronger.”

In describing what innovation means to ThingMagic, Grant explains that the most innovative solutions are those where users can interact with RFID naturally and where the technology is so integrated and transparent that it disappears.  We’ve seen this in a growing number of deployments including those by Ford Motor Company and The Disney Family Cancer Center.  We’re also seeing this begin to take hold in solutions like presence-based smart displays and kiosks where RFID is helping to create a seamless and pervasive interaction between people, the environment, and information. This innovation in content delivery and management systems is also intersecting with social networks, which makes it attractive to new markets and an expansive base of new users.

The interview also highlights ThingMagic’s vision of how RFID solutions and innovation will drive the next revolution of wireless and mobility.  We believe that the next wave of innovation and success will come from combining technologies such as active and passive RFID, GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.  The success metric will be when the best of these technologies are combined in a hybrid product or solution that is less defined by the technology and more about what the users can accomplish with it. 

As a market, we’ve reached several important milestones.  It’s time to set our sights on the next one. We need to start thinking beyond the enabling technology and focus on the value of the data generated by RFID reads and how it can be applied to business processes.  “it is time we reshape the way we think about RFID”, says Grant.

What do you envision the next RFID milestone to look like?

The Engine in RFID

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, May 25, 2011 @ 11:09 AM

Tags: RFID, Retail, Social Media, Social Networks

ThingMagicIts been a few weeks since the close of RFID Journal LIVE! 2011, and the reviews are in.  By all measures this year’s event provided a solid platform for end users, technology vendors and solution providers to meet to discuss the latest in RFID and its many applications across industries.  Overall, the sessions seemed well attended - especially the standing room only keynotes.  Like in years past, the exhibit floor was home to many exciting demonstrations, but this year included a demo area highlighting the use of RFID in retail - from product manufacturing to the retail store (more on this later).

Among the highlights for ThingMagic were the following:

RFID’s Best Powered by ThingMagic

Gerry Weber International received the Best RFID Implementation Award for a solution that integrates RFID tags into its clothing labels so items can be tracked from the point of manufacture to over 200 store locations.  As detailed in a recent ThingMagic announcement titled Trimble Embedded RFID Readers Power International Retail Inventory Management Solution, several elements of Gerry Weber’s solution include ThingMagic readers, including Nordic ID PL3000 UHF RFID Cross Dipole handhelds, and point of sale (PoS) and electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems designed by RAKO Security-Label GmbH. 

If two makes a trend, then game on.  ThingMagic readers also powered the solution deployed by RFID Journal LIVE! 2010 Most Innovative Use of RFID award winner The Disney Family Cancer Center for their use of RFID to enhance the patient’s experience and increase efficiency.  See ThingMagic’s case study on this innovative, first-of-its-kind solution.

ThingMagic Powers Retail Supply Chain Pavilion

In a demonstration sponsored by GS1 US and coordinated by former colleague Ken Traub of Ken Traub Consulting, several technology providers showed how apparel items can be tagged at the point of manufacture and then tracked through distribution centers, store receiving and on the retail sales floor.  Four of the eight vendors demonstrating their products - including Avery Dennison RBIS, Tagsys RFID, Seeonic, and Zebra Technologies - offer retail solutions Powered by ThingMagic. See RFID Journal’s video of the GS1 US Apparel Demo for an overview of the solutions demonstrated.

Rounding out our retail market activity, ThingMagic partnered with Truecount Corporation - an innovator of RFID software solutions for the retail industry, to demonstrate item-level RFID capabilities and benefits for the retail industry end-to-end supply chain - focusing on the critical functions that can help retailers achieve greater efficiencies in their operations.

RFID + Social Networking = Reach

A hands down crowd favorite at RFID Journal LIVE! were several Facebook ‘Like’ and ‘Check-In’ kiosks developed by ODIN.  Each kiosk included ODIN’s Facebook-ready software known as EasyConnect (which is integrated into Facebook’s RFID presence modules) and ThingMagic ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID readers. Check-in stations were strategically placed throughout the conference areas, allowing attendees to update their Facebook profiles by checking in via Facebook Places. Similarly, ‘Like’ kiosks located on the exhibit floor and in major speaking sessions helped build Facebook audiences for RFID Journal, ODIN, ThingMagic and other event sponsors.

These kiosks allowed attendees to extend their personal experiences from the physical world to the online world in real-time, expanding reach and influence well beyond the boundaries of the conference.  A recent blog post from ODIN includes some very interesting statistics about this social media and RFID solution.  A full case study of the solution has also been published by ThingMagic and can be found here.

Now fast forward and consider the future of RFID integrated into the retail supply chain, mobile devices, smart signage, kiosks and other elements of the physical environment combined with the reach of Social Media - and the possibilities seem limitless.

ThingMagic at RFID Journal LIVE! 2011

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Apr 06, 2011 @ 05:03 PM

Tags: RFID, Retail, Social Networks, RFID Journal LIVE

It’s that time of year again.   And no I don’t mean tax season, although that is upon us too.

I’m talking about the time when companies from different industries come to together to learn how they can use RFID to improve their business processes. That’s right. RFID Journal LIVE! 2011 is right around the corner and this year, ThingMagic will be there showcasing our products, partnerships doing some cool new things with RFID.

Visit ThingMagic – The Engine in RFID @ LIVE!

Stop by ThingMagic’s booth # 124 on the exhibit floor for demonstrations of our finished RFID readers and embedded RFID modules.  We’ll be showcasing how RFID can be used for a growing number of ‘connected’ enterprise applications – from tag commissioning at the desktop to enterprise asset tracking, in-vehicle inventory management, and the integration of RFID data into enterprise applications.

ThingMagic Demo

As RFID in retail is sure to be a hot topic at this year’s conference, ThingMagic has partnered with Truecount Corporation to demonstrate item-level RFID capabilities and benefits for the retail industry end-to-end supply chain.   Truecount is offering FREE consultation to all retailers/attendees stopping by the ThingMagic Booth!

RFID Social Media Program

We have long thought that there was a natural connection between RFID and social networks and predicted that these technologies would collide - and here we are!

ThingMagic USB readers will be put to work during the show in the conference’s real-time Facebook "Like" and "Check-in" stations. ThingMagic’s readers will be used in conjunction with ODIN EasyConnect which is integrated into Facebook’s RFID presence modules. By swiping their conference badges near one of these kiosks, conference attendees will be able to connect with and update their Facebook accounts in real time. So, if you aren’t attending, be sure to watch for live feedback from the show!

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to “Like” ThingMagic on Facebook!

We look forward to seeing you in Orlando and stay tuned for our post-show review…

Messages on the Move

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Dec 01, 2010 @ 03:03 PM

Tags: RFID, Smart Displays, Race Timing, Social Networks

RFID Helps Cheer Marathoners Along New York City Route

Feaster FiveI had a great time last week running my town’s Thanksgiving morning road race - the Feaster Five – and hope to run again next year.  Running along side more than 10,000 other runners, joggers and walkers, including marathon legends Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Team Hoyt, I was especially looking forward to cruising past my house and my own personal cheering section.  Being cheered on by friends and family can go a long way – even in a short 5 miler (or 5k in my case) like the Feaster Five. 

Now imagine running all 26 grueling miles and 385 yards of a marathon and all of the little things along the way that can help runners focus on making it across the finish line.  In previous blog posts we covered the use of RFID for race timing to record accurate start and finish times and provide runners with split times to help them set their pace.  We’ve also blogged about the use of RFID in smart signage to provide opt-in users with unique personalized messages.  Now, how about a combination of the two?

The New York Marathon is one of the world’s largest marathon events with over 45,000 runners and 2 million people cheering them on.  What a better place to combine the use of RFID already in place to time runners with the display of personalized messages from the family and friends of race participants.  ASICS America launched such a program as part of the 2010 New York Marathon.  Prior to the start of the race, ASICS setup a program site dedicated to taking photos, video and collecting personal messages, texts, tweets and Facebook comments from race supporters.  Then, the same RFID tags worn by racers for timing triggered the display of the messages on LED screens as they passed by sensor-enabled checkpoints throughout the marathon route.

Check out ASICS’ cool "support your marathoner" video:

I’ve experienced first hand how the motivation of others can help you push a little bit harder, run a little bit faster, and stay focused on the task at hand.  And, I for one know I’d need all the encouragement I could get if I were running a marathon!

The race route is one setting where motivation can help.  Where else do you think this type of solution could inspire others? 

Shredding It with Sensors

Posted by Ken Lynch on Fri, Sep 24, 2010 @ 01:36 PM

Tags: RFID, Sensors, Social Networks, Connected Devices, Gaming

Nokia and Burton Boards Combine the Misty Flip with Mobile Apps

I admit it - I’m starting to sound like a broken record on this topic, but I think solutions like these will introduce RFID and sensing technologies to the mass consumer market, leading to a very interesting convergence of RFID and wireless sensor data capture, social networks and the mobile web.  And, they’re just plain cool!

In an earlier post titled RFID Predictions, I mentioned that I have long thought that there was a natural connection between RFID and social networks, and that someday this enabling technology and would collide with the massive reach of the social web.  I pointed to Epic Mix – a combination RFID tags in lift tickets, RFID readers on the slopes, mobile applications, social networks, and virtual currency – as an example.

In my email inbox today was another interesting example of the combination of wireless sensors, mobile devices and connected games.  It started with the Nokia Push project in 2009 which integrates small sensors into skateboards to capture motion data about the tricks and movements of riders.  This program has recently been extended to a collaboration with Burton Snowboards where similar data from snowboard rides is pushed to a Nokia phone and displayed in a game-like interface.  Sharing this information via Twitter and Facebook is a natural extension of the application, presumably providing new opportunities for mountain operators and retailers to connect with their customers.

Your thoughts?  Will this example of a connected everyday object – where in-vehicle RFID can be used to make sure your boarding equipment is in your car and sensors allow you to share your experience on the slopes with the world in real time – enhance your experience on the slopes?

RFID Predictions

Posted by Ken Lynch on Fri, Sep 17, 2010 @ 04:00 AM

Tags: Calculus of Reality, RFID, Internet of Things, Social Networks

Embedded Intelligence Drives Epic Innovation

“In Two Years, Facebook Places Will Look Like This App

Colorado-based Vail Resorts Inc (MTN) has released what might be the most ridiculously cool and commercially aggressive mobile strategy in the iTunes App Store — and it’s an awesome preview of what bigger real-life social networks will look like soon.”

Given his background as a freelance writer specializing in tech and innovation, his contributions to FastCompany, Discover, Inc, and RollingStone, and authorship of books about iPhone app design and Google Voice, the above headline and article lead published by Chris Dannen in bNet grabbed my attention. 

EpicMixI had heard of Epic Mix being implemented at Vail Resorts and followed some of the initial coverage of the solution before reading Dannen’s article, but Dannen’s colorful descriptions and view of the larger commercial opportunities cemented things for me even further.  I have also long thought that there was a natural connection between RFID and social networks and that someday this enabling technology and would collide with the massive reach of the social web – and here we are.

Combining RFID tags in lift tickets, RFID readers on the slopes, mobile applications, social networks and virtual currency, Epic Mix delivers a unique experience for skiers and boarders at Vail Resorts and may provide a glimpse into what the future of RFID enabled commerce will look like. 

Looking beyond Epic Mix, according to Dannen, “Real-life social networks will soon approach this level of context. MasterCard (MC) is piloting RFID purchasing with debit cards, which would allow a system like Foursquare’s to automatically check you in when you buy something. GPS tracking is getting better (check out the app Glympse) just as consumers’ privacy concerns are loosening. And more of these discrete services are becoming interoperable. More interesting is the money to be made.”

Real Time Data for Real World Apps

Dannon’s comments seem in line with others who share a similar view of the convergence of RFID and sensor enabled data capture, social networks, and the mobile web.

From IBM and their description of A Smarter Planet:

“Data is being captured today as never before. It reveals everything from large and systemic patterns—of global markets, workflows, national infrastructures and natural systems—to the location, temperature, security and condition of every item in a global supply chain. And then there's the growing torrent of information from billions of individuals using social media. They are customers, citizens, students and patients. They are telling us what they think, what they like and want, and what they're witnessing. As important, all this data is far more real-time than ever before.”

Further from WIRED’s recent article, The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet:

“Over the past few years, one of the most important shifts in the digital world has been the move from the wide-open Web to semiclosed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display… And it’s the world that consumers are increasingly choosing, not because they’re rejecting the idea of the Web but because these dedicated platforms often just work better or fit better into their lives (the screen comes to them, they don’t have to go to the screen). The fact that it’s easier for companies to make money on these platforms only cements the trend.”

The Calculus of Reality and Location-Based ‘Twitter Feeds’

ThingMagic has made its own predictions over the years – describing how RFID will drive The Internet of Things and Reality Search Engines.  Expanding on these views, ThingMagic founders Ravi Pappu and Yael Maguire recently shared their predictions with Greg Huang of Xconomy.  From the article:

“Google is really interested in mapping, but they haven’t crossed the boundary from the street to the building,” says Maguire. “We’re starting from inside. There should be overlap quite soon.”

Pappu took it a bit further. “Think about all the things you could look for. Think about the calculus of reality,” he says. “There’s a certain scale you can put Wi-Fi on—a laptop, phone. But the next level down does not admit batteries.” He’s talking about the idea that tiny sensors could be placed in all of the items you interact with every day, and information from those sensors could feed into a centralized database that keeps track of the physical state of everything in the world. “The interesting premise is, don’t make any changes to the interface, especially the interface to the human. Let them be how they are, and see how you can do this calculus without affecting them.”

It’s not really clear yet what the best applications of all this would be. But tying RFID into the exploding sector of location-based services and mobile applications certainly seems intriguing. You can see this technology as a form of artificial intelligence, Maguire says. “The computer is there observing the world in a very distributed way. Every object is like a little Twitter feed, and something has to make sense of it.”

How accurate do you think these predictions are?  What are your predictions about the future of RFID?

We’ve got more to share.  Stay tuned…

RFID and Social Networks

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Aug 18, 2010 @ 02:56 PM

Tags: RFID, Social Networks, Coca Cola, Facebook Places

RFID Brings the Digital ‘Like' to the Physical World

[Update on August 20]: Who, What, When, and Now...Where. Will Facebook Places extend the Digital Like?

Originally published on Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Like DislikeI expect this topic will result in equal amounts of “Likes” and “Dislikes”.  Regardless of your position, let us know what you think…

At Facebook’s f8 developer conference a couple of months ago, the company announced its testing of RFID for location-based services.  Upon registering, conference attendees were given RFID tags to swipe at check in stations located throughout the conference venue.  Called “Facebook Presence”, this solution provided a visualization of people’s ‘check-ins’ and enabled users to post presence-based information, tag photos, and link to other content simply by swiping their RFID card – removing the need to manually post updates via a computer or mobile device.  Apparently, Facebook has been using this solution internally for a very unique application.  Deployed at its headquarters “Keg Presence” provides a stream of information that lets users know what type of beer is being served from the company keg and when it is empty.  I’m a Facebook user and sometimes enjoy refreshments on Friday afternoons at the office, so I think I get it.

While Keg Presence may offer limited value outside of Facebook’s four walls, I’ve always thought that some day RFID and social networks would collide.  With RFID able to record many events in the physical world and social networks being used by so many individuals and businesses, the convergence of these technologies and platforms has to result in some practical applications, right?

Coca Cola + Facebook + RFID + Teens = Influence

Enter Coca Cola, Facebook, RFID, and a bunch of tech savvy teenagers.  This summer Facebook, the Coca-Cola village in Israel, and a couple of experiential marketing agencies (Promarket and Publicis E Dologic) teamed to bring the Facebook ‘Like’ out of the virtual world and into the physical world.  Coke organized a hangout called The Coca Cola Village and invited thousands of teens to attend.  It wasn’t an old fashioned direct mailer they used to attract participants though. They required participants to collect 10 Coke bottle caps each, gather eight friends who did the same, and then register through Facebook.

Upon arrival at the Coca Cola Village, party-goers were asked to configure an RFID-enabled wristband that would hold their Facebook login and password.  Attendees swiped their wristband when starting a variety of activities throughout the venue.   Each swipe updated a person’s Facebook status with what they were doing - automatically digitalizing, archiving, organizing, and sharing their physical experience with the virtual world.  It is reported that the three day event attracted over 650 teenagers a day, generated 35,000+ posts a day, totaling over 100,000 posts for the event. 

Social networks, permission marketing, crowdsourcing, and tribe building offer new ways and tools for companies to develop, market, and sell products.  From renowned entrepreneur and author Seth Godin in a post on his blog titled Tribe Management:

“It starts with permission, the understanding that the real asset most organizations can build isn't an amorphous brand but is in fact the privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them.”

I’ve not seen any ROI data, but I have to think that some purchasing influence was achieved by having a tribe of consumers sharing, discussing and promoting the Coca Cola brand on a social media platform that serves over 500 million active users.

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