ThingLink Launches Labs, First Project: Printable NFC-Enabled Images

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ThingLink, a startup that lets you add rich media tags to online images, is today announcing the launch of an internal incubator called ThingLink Labs which will be a dedicated environment to create and productize innovations in the field of image interaction.

The Labs’ first project is Rich Media Notes, a printed version of ThingLink images, which will also include NFC tags.

The new Notes, built-in collaboration with designer Klaus Haapaniemi, are being shown off today and tomorrow at the Wired 2011 conference in London. Delegates will receive their own Rich Media Notes, which, when read by an NFC-enabled smartphone, will link through to an online profile on About.me.

In case you’re unfamiliar with ThingLink, the company lets you add tags to online images that show up as small blue dots when you move your mouse over the image. The dots can link to URLs, include text, or link to a number of services, including  Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, EventBrite, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, Flickr, SoundCloud, Spotify, Wikipedia, Etsy and more.

These hotspot-laden images have been popular so far with indie record labels, big-name bands and promoters, including, for example, music artist promoter TopSpin. There are a couple of big deals with labels in the works, too. Some artists use ThingLink images that allow users to play tracks directly from the photo itself, while others link out to the artist’s social networking presence elsewhere on the Web.

By turning these ThingLink images into printouts, there is the possibility of wider distribution with NFC-enabled posters, flyers, handouts, and other material. Record labels may even use them in the future to create interactive physical album covers, to bring back that sense of engagement that used to come from perusing a CD or record’s liner notes.

Rich Media Notes have been created in collaboration with UPM RFID, providers of NFC tags, and TagAge, providers of NFC printing solutions.