Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sunday's Globe column: Social Networking Goes to the Dogs

I'm traveling this week, so a bit slow to post the link to last Sunday's Globe column. It focuses on two Boston companies working on intelligent, wearable tags -- one for humans, and one for dogs.

From the piece:

    Entrepreneurs of every breed need to make a clean break with reality; their job is to imagine a product or service that doesn't yet exist and that fills a need none of us knew we had. Ideas that seem slightly crazy at first - Bluetooth headsets, anyone? - can become commonplace in just a few years. Or they end up as one more crazy concept that didn't fly.

    SNIF [Labs] is the second local start-up to introduce wearable tags for information exchange. Charlestown-based nTag Interactive has raised $14 million to market smart name tags that enable conference-goers to swap contact information, peruse the day's agenda, play ice-breaker games, or respond to a speaker's survey question.

    Both companies trace their genealogy to the MIT Media Lab. In 1995, the lab was organizing a party to mark the launch of a research initiative, called Things That Think. The objective was to explore what might happen when computers were embedded into all sorts of objects.

And here's the video ... a short conversation with SNIF Labs CEO Noah Paessel:

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Conference tech start-up nTAG grabs $8.3 million

nTAG started out as a cool demo at the MIT Media Lab -- intelligent nametags that could exchange information with one another. Researcher Rick Borovoy decided to turn the demo into a company.

Some of the earliest deployments were kind of sketchy; at PopTech in 2003, attendees seemed more interested in talking about what was wrong with the tags, which were supposed to help identify like-minded folks, than what was right with them.

But now nTAG has developed into more of a full-fledged "event technology" company, offering conference organizers technology for surveys, personalized agendas, and cell phone audience polling.

Today, the Boston-based company announced an $8.3 million second round of VC from Sevin Rosen and Pilot House Ventures. An earlier jolt of funding was $6 million last January, from the same funds. Company has raised a total of $23 million, according to VentureBeat.

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