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If the new startup 1Ring has its way, soon we’ll be punching in phone numbers to learn more about the world around us.
The company’s technology is similar to QR barcodes, which are used in posters and magazines to connect consumers to additional information on the web. But instead of having users take a photo of a barcode, which also needs to be decoded by a QR barcode app, 1Ring’s free solution only requires dialing a phone number to get more information. And since it doesn’t use a camera or any special apps, 1Ring is compatible with any cellphone.
Once a consumer dials a 1Ring number, they hear the call ring once and any information tied to that number is instantly played back. The information is also stored in your 1Ring account, which is accessible online and through a toll-free phone number.
The Italian company has already found success in the Italian edition of Wired Magazine, where numbers lead to additional information about articles, as well as for the city of Verona’s bus system, where 1Ring numbers can let you know when the next bus is arriving. The technology is also being used by MAXXI, Rome’s contemporary art museum, to offer visitors more information about exhibits.
While consumers have easy access to useful information, brands also get the benefit of more control over their communications with consumers. Additionally, brands can sell 1Ring numbers to advertisers, as well as get a better sense of their user demographics. Advertisers and companies can also benefit, as 1Ring also gives them a better sense of their customers with targeted (but anonymous) information like age, gender, location and language.
The company was founded in 2009 and currently has seven full-time employees (including its four co-founders). 1Ring has raised $1 million so far, with seed funding from venture incubator H-Farm.
1Ring is one of 80 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Fall 2011 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After our selection, the companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.