Tagstand, the Y Combinator-backed startup intent on taking NFC mainstream, is announcing a partnership with mobile accessories maker TYLT in advance of this year’s CES in Las Vegas. The deal involves three new products, manufactured by TYLT, which use Tagstand’s NFC technology: TUNZ, a portable Bluetooth speaker; CAPIO, a universal smartphone mount for the car; and TAGZ, which are the NFC stickers you can program and place anywhere.
The products are designed to work with Tagstand’s Android application, NFC Task Launcher, which previously was made to work with NFC tags, like those Tagstand offers in its tag store. Users configure their NFC tags to perform particular tasks when tapped – like automatically activating Bluetooth, launching their navigation app or music app on their phone, connect to Wi-Fi networks, change ringer volumes, check-in on social networks, and more. The Task Launcher app has now been downloaded over 250,000 times, according to Tagstand co-founder Kulveer Taggar.
With the new products from TYLT, however, some of those use cases are now available built into the hardware devices themselves. For example, the CAPIO phone dock can now be configured to turn on your Bluetooth connection to sync with your car, launch your favorite mapping app or start playing music just by placing the phone in the mount.
The TUNZ speaker can be tapped to start playing music, and perform other tasks, like connecting to Wi-Fi, for example. So hopefully, a better alternative to the poorly received Nexus Q? (At least it looks like a speaker, not a ball.) The speaker includes a built-in noise canceling microphone that lets you switch from music to hands-free calling, and offers up to 20 hours of battery life. You can get 30 hours if you play the volume at half status, the company claims.
Although NFC doesn’t have widespread adoption in the U.S. at this point in terms of mobile payments – the technology it is often most associated with – Tagstand has been betting big that its integration into new Android phones will pave the way for startups that take advantage of the technology in other ways. TYLT is also investing in NFC, with plans to ship at least 100,000 NFC chips in six products in 2013. (In addition to the speaker and smartphone dock, they have four others on the roadmap. Some of the products were previously announced, but Tagstand’s partnership was not.)
Taggar adds that Tagstand’s NFC Task Launcher app has now seen over 10 million actions executed, which is up from the 1 million it was reporting back in June 2012. At the time, the company had just transitioned the app from a $2 paid version to a free offering, so the drop in price (to zero), has likely helped increase adoption.
As have Samsung’s spicy and snarky marketing of its own NFC implementation, S-Beam, I might add.
The new NFC-enabled products will debut at CES, and TUNZ will be available for purchase immediately. CAPIO and TAGZ will launch next month.