Gadgets

NXP enables NFC ‘tap to interact’ badges at CES (exclusive)

Above: NXP and Qualcomm will enable NFC-based badges at CES.

Image Credit: NXP

CES 2014

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The Consumer Electronics Show will finally have smart badges that are worthy of the world’s largest tech trade event.

Silicon Valley chip maker NXP has enabled “tap to interact” badges that use near-field communications to create much more functional badges for attendees of the 2014 International CES tech trade show in Las Vegas.

The badges at CES, which starts the week of Jan. 5, will enable much better communications between the 150,000 attendees and 3,300 exhibitors. They use near-field communication (NFC) and have tiny wireless chips that establish a connection between a badge and a reading device. These will create much faster communication for trade-show purposes like exchanging sales lead data, said Jeffrey Fonseca, the director of business development at NXP in San Jose, Calif.

“You can get a quick retrieval of a lead for anyone who goes into your booth,” Fonseca said in an interview with VentureBeat. “This is done in real time, within seconds. It can be filtered to an exhibitor on the spot.”

Typically, it can take a long time to process leads from trade shows. The lag can be days or weeks, and a sales lead can go cold during that time. But with the new technology, exhibitors who ordered lead retrieval services can use their own smartphones to collect badge data and then use apps that can process the information and forward it to the right person at the exhibitor company.

Now an attendee can wave a badge in front of an NFC-labeled product at a show booth. The attendee can get information from the interaction and can also give data to the exhibitor.

The first-ever interactive show badges will make use of MIFARE badge system and NFC connectivity to give attendees a more custom experience. They can exchange business credentials and get product information from NFC-based posters. Qualcomm is the official sponsor of the show badges.

The good thing about using NFC instead of radio-frequency identification tags (RFID) is that the wireless technology can work with the newest smartphones. All the exhibitors have to do is download the right apps onto the smartphones, and they’re ready to handle the badge reading.

Past systems were much more labor-intensive than the MIFARE-based system. NFC works better than QR codes, where you take a picture of a code, because it consumes less battery power than a QR-based app that taps your phone’s camera.

NXP has partneed with ITN International and Smartrac to put together the MIFARE-based system at CES. ITN came up with the concept eight years ago, and it’s been a lot of work to make the smart badges happen via ITN’s card application, Fonseca said.

“We’re delighted that NXP agreed to provide its innovative technology to ITN for use at the 2014 International CES,” said Ivan Lazarev, president and CEO, ITN International. “It’s proven itself to be the most dependable interface on the market today.”

“Year after year CES sees the introduction of the latest consumer technologies. We are excited to use one of our exhibitors products for our registration system and bring a more personalized experience to every attendee,” said, Karen Chupka, senior vice president, International CES and corporate business strategy at the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

So far, five billion NFC components and 5 million readers have been sold to date. NXP helped create NFC back in 2002, and it is now used in a growing number of mobile devices and computers. About 200 mobile devices are NFC-compatible now.