nTAG: Solving a problem that doesn’t exist

At the MIT Technology Review’s Emerging Technologies conference, rather than regular nametags, nTAG provided electronic badges. These badges weighed about a pound, had an on-screen display (that looked like an old cellphone), and could connect wirelessly to one another.

When meeting someone at the conference, rather than exchanging business cards, two electronic badges could be held next to each other and exchange the contact information automatically.

The renting the system costs $15,000 for a conference with 100 attendees. The value it proviedes is to solve the problem of….. carrying an agenda and exchanging business cards.

Unfortunately, I found myself still collecting business cards so I could write on the back of them. So essentially this is a $15,000 system that replaces a $0.02 agenda page, and a handful of business cards.

If the value isn’t clear for attendees, maybe it’s clearer for the organizer… nTAG provides big-brother quality data to the organizer, who can monitor which attendees talk to each other. But the value of this information? Unclear.

The factors that make a conference worth attending – engaging speakers, open environment to network with others in the field, good food and entertainment – have little to do with nametags.

Rick Burns, Sevin Rosen Funds and Pilot House Venture, which provided $14MM in angel / Series A / SeriesĀ  B rounds of funding, thought otherwise.

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