Cellotape Smart Products’ slogan is “Anything is possible.” That phrase sounds less like marketing hyperbole and more like a simple statement of fact the more you learn about the diverse projects the Silicon Valley-based company has been involved in.
For example, in 2015, Cellotape teamed up with NXP, and Google to create the Skrillex Live Case, a limited-edition NFC-enabled mobile phone case for fans of the Grammy Award-winning electronic dance music producer. The case enables VIP access to Skrillex content and includes live wallpaper that extends the case design onto the screen. Each case features a customizable NFC shortcut button. All three versions of the case quickly sold out.
For almost seven decades, Cellotape has been a leading provider of innovative labels for the medical and electronics industries. As technology progressed and the capabilities of labels have expanded, Cellotape pioneered the use of RFID and NFC-enabled products and labels, and in April of 2015, set up Cellotape Smart Products as a separate division. Now part of Resource Label Group, LLC, Cellotape Smart Products is led by President Tim Daly, who honed his expertise in RF proximity solutions as co-founder of Thinaire.
Tim Daly can rattle off a succession of marketing programs in which NFC has delivered what no other technology could.
For example, there’s the Adidas Boost running shoe, which features a “lace jewel” embedded with an NFC chip. Shoppers with an NFC phone can tap it for detailed product information, reviews, and more. Once consumers buy the shoes, the tag enables the relationship between Adidas and the consumer to continue and develop. RF marketing specialist Thinaire contracted with Cellotape to produce and encode all of the NFC inlays.
“Adidas now knows who bought their products,” said Daly. “Now, for the first time, when someone buys a pair of the shoes, they tap and register themselves as taking ownership of the shoes. All of a sudden Adidas has all this information that they never had before. So it created this two-way dynamic channel between the brand and the consumers who bought the product and they can now push very interesting and unique customized content through it. It became a very big hit.”
“About two years ago, we developed an NFC-enabled smart tattoo,” said Daly.” They have been used successfully at numerous events around the world.”
We are all very excited that we just completed shipping a very large order for a highly custom gold foil NFC Smart tattoo for a very big global movie release coming out this summer.
The NFC-enabled tattoo is both a cool-looking wearable that advertises the brand and a way for the movie studio to bond with the film’s fans.
“When you touch your phone to it, you register with the brand, letting them know who you are and associating the unique ID of the tag with your contact information,” noted Daly. “Then there is an entire marketing program that goes on with that afterwards, including some innovative gamified elements.” The tattoos will be distributed at limited access VIP events across the world.
Success stories like this have enabled Cellotape Smart Products to establish itself as a leader in developing ways to use NFC and UHF RF tags.
“Our biggest consumers of tags are companies that are taking the NFC tags and putting them either inside or on top of a product and authenticating it.”
While marketing programs often capture bigger headlines, other segments of Cellotape’s business are growing faster.
“Where we are really busiest today is in product authentication,” said Daly. Adding an NFC tag to a product label helps deter counterfeiting with very little additional cost.
Another use case where NFC is rapidly gaining traction is access control. Cellotape Smart Products plays a key role in helping promoters manage a well-known annual music festival that attracted 125,000 attendees this year.
“We do all of the event stickers,” said Daly. “When you buy a pass you can buy a parking sticker as well. We put a 15693 proximity NFC tag in the sticker, and as attendees come into the parking area, they scan it and authenticate that they are who they are and it is an authentic sticker.”
“ We developed an on-filter label with an NFC tag that can be immersed in all kinds of liquid.”
Another area of growth is the Internet of Things. Cellotape is bringing the business value of NFC into the industrial world.
“We do business with a large global company that makes machines that filter fluid,” he said. “In this machine is a very expensive filter. And that filter is a big part of what makes the final product so good. The filter is not cheap, so there were a number of knockoff replacement filters being sold, with the result that the quality of the final product was not as good. This company came to us to solve that problem. When that filter is put onto the machine and locked into place, it comes into close proximity with a reader and that reader verifies that the filter is an OEM filter and the machine will work. If you don’t have a filter with that tag on it, it will not work. As a result, they have seen their revenues in the replacement filter market skyrocket just by adding a very low-cost label.
“The advantages of NFC come down to reach and scale,” said Tim Daly. “And the fact that it is a frictionless technology.”
While Cellotape Smart Products has expanded its business in recent years into UHF technologies, NFC remains the biggest segment of its business, for several reasons.
If I have an NFC-enabled device and I see something I care about and I touch my phone to it, I get something back of value. The frictionless nature of NFC is critical. Secondly, there’s the fact that essentially every device has NFC hardware in it so the potential to read a tag and interact with it is there for billions of devices. That is huge reach. So ease of use, reach, frictionless ability, and the fact that you can really deliver content in context makes NFC amazing. It cuts through all of the noise, the spam, and the wasted messaging.”