Gema debuts multi-chip NFC super tag with built-in keyboard

The new technology involves placing multiple NFC chips on a single tag base that are individually triggered when a consumer places their mobile phone on the base and presses a button. “Think of it like an NFC keyboard,” says founder Joanna Rogerson.

Gema Touch's Gema Tag NFC "super tag"
SUPER TAG: Gema Touch’s Gema Tag holds five NFC chips, a single antenna and a pressure-sensitive keyboard. Click to enlarge.

US-based startup Gema Touch has introduced a new NFC tag concept that makes it possible to produce a range of new types of interactive experience.

Gema Touch’s technology involves placing multiple NFC chips on a single tag base that are then individually triggered when a consumer places their mobile phone on the base and presses a button.

“Think of it like an NFC keyboard,” says founder and CEO Joanna Rogerson. “Having multiple ICs that are triggered by a user tremendously increases the control and functionality capabilities possible from a single surface.

How Gema Tags work. Click to enlarge.

“Unlike traditional passive NFC tags that are proximity based (meaning you move your phone around until you get close enough that the tag will ping), since our tags are triggered by the user’s touch, there is no more threat of cross-talk from having multiple NFC tags in close proximity. Our design also makes for really interesting applications that just were not possible before — imagine playing a video game by touching your February magazine subscription!”

“We are using standard NFC chips but store very little data on the tags themselves. Rather we store more of the information on the web and just use the tags as a trigger,” Rogerson adds. “The tags are passive, so no battery. We have literally just broken the circuit on the antenna and placed ICs down the tag. We have a couple of different designs on the buttons, but you can just think of them as a pressure sensitive area that, when pressed, completes the broken circuit on the antenna.”

A video produced by Gema Touch shows some of the possible use cases for the technology in action:

Currently, Gema Touch is working with a five chip design but, Rogerson says, “we can increase or decrease that button or IC count no problem”.

“We formed the company less than a year ago in an attempt to solve the problem of brands’ inability to connect with mobile consumers specifically at the point of purchase and/or service,” Rogerson explains.

“When we thought of our own experiences with branded marketing material in the real world (for example in-store displays, packaging and magazines), we felt we were being flooded with content that was becoming less personal to our everyday actions and, frankly, less fun. Yet our every click online helped to tailor content and experiences that best interested us.

“We created our Gema Tag technology to help those brands create more robust, personal, and engaging experiences and to help mobile consumer connect to a digital ecosystem of mobile apps, websites and brand-customized content. By embedding our tags into printable surfaces, we essentially create a touch interface on items that surround us everyday.

“We have been investing a lot of resourcing early on into creating a robust IP platform around the technology,” Rogerson added. Gema Touch’s design has been patented internationally, including design, utility and manufacturing, and an initial short run of fifty tags is now available on a limited edition basis from NFC specialist Flomio. “Everything else will just be sold through us directly,” says Rogerson.