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Summary:

While DEMO is primarily a showcase platform for standalone startups, well-established companies launch products there too. This year Alcatel-Lucent has brought an internal startup pushing an RFID tag reading system called tikitag that aims to bridge the online and digital worlds. The Alcatel-Lucent employees pushing this […]

While DEMO is primarily a showcase platform for standalone startups, well-established companies launch products there too. This year Alcatel-Lucent has brought an internal startup pushing an RFID tag reading system called tikitag that aims to bridge the online and digital worlds. The Alcatel-Lucent employees pushing this hardware platform have used less than $10 million in corporate funds.

In the physical world, tikitag is a set of RFID- and Near Field Communication-enabled tags and a corresponding reader. The system is standards-based, so eventually it will work with most RFID tags and readers, while the NFC aspect is aimed at allowing NFC-enabled phones to read tags as well. The hardware is the entry point to a cloud-based database that uses both the ID of the tag and the location of the tag reader to pull up an appropriate application — a stored value payment system or a retailer’s loyalty program, for example — online or on a mobile device.

So far, there are 35 developers building applications for tikitag, a number the guys behind the startup expect to grow as the product leaves its controlled alpha. Tikitag officially launches today and the $50 hardware starter kit containing a reader and 10 tags will be for sale at Amazon.com on Oct. 1.

We’ve seen this effort to bridge the real and digital worlds before with CueCat or ad plays like Kwiry. I’m still skeptical, but with the ubiquity of RFID readers, the standards-based approach to the hardware is the best effort I’ve seen so far. If Alcatel-Lucent can entice devleopers to build compelling applications, they might drive the purchase of the hardware. Once the hardware platform takes off or developers get involved, Alcatel-Lucent plans to sell subscriptions for business users to link their applications with consumers, giving the company another foot in the services market as its equipment business gets more and more competitive.

By Stacey Higginbotham

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  1. I received a sneak blogger preview along with 6-7 other people from the spin-off initiative takers a couple of weeks ago, and walked away fairly impressed. The price setting will be a very important factor!

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  2. While you’re at DEMO, you should check a company I know, DocLanding. They are offering a new document management and collaboration tool. It will help small businesses to easily control, organize and share files. They are presenting today at 3:57. Check them out at http://www.doclanding.com.

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  3. [...] a USB RFID reader along with bunny-shaped tags Alcatel-Lucent’s startup (!?) tikitag announced today it tikitag rfid reader + 10 tags will be available soon on Amazon at 50 USD This, is nice, as a [...]

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  4. [...] this year suggests NFC phones will take a while to arrive. Alcatel-Lucent is pushing NFC in its month-old tikitag offering, so perhaps the technology will find a home in consumer gadgets. After that it should only take [...]

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  5. [...] Profiled on GigaOm earlier this year, this Alcatel-Lucent internal startup is an RFID tag reading system designed to [...]

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  6. [...] players, much less weaker ones. Alcatel-Lucent will also embrace new lines of business, such as services, but the company still has its work cut out for it. The cost-cutting can buy it time, but it still [...]

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