By Claire Swedberg
Nov. 7, 2011—Brooklyn, N.Y., startup Brouha
has launched an RFID
-based system to enhance neighborhood shopping by allowing residents of Brooklyn apartment buildings to use their building's identification and access cards to automatically receive loyalty points and discounts from stores and restaurants within their neighborhoods. In addition, the firm offers the same solution for use by individual retailers, and to function as a type of a loyalty card. For both types of applications, the system tracks how frequently a customer visits a participatingbusiness, and offers rewards via text message on a user's cell phone. The technology is also being marketed for use at conferences and hotels.
In the case of the residential neighborhood solution, says Chaz Mee, Brouha's president, RFID readers will be installed in groups of up to 15 stores within approximately six neighborhoods, each surrounding a specific apartment building, by the end of this year. Building residents can utilize an enhanced version of their existing access-control card with built-in Brouha technology, in order to gain rewards at the neighborhood stores.
Chaz Mee, Brouha's president
The company's name is derived from the word "brouhaha," Mee says, as he liked the word's definition of commotion. "It represents this magical feeling a customer gets when they walk into the store and their phone automatically buzzes with something special just for them," he explains. The firm was incorporated in March 2011, and the system has since been piloted by The West Brooklyn
, a beer, wine and coffee bar on Brooklyn's Union Avenue, specifically for that store, with a single RFID loyalty card used only at The West Brooklyn.
In the case of the neighborhood solution, each apartment tenant is provided with a plastic building-access card that also functions as a loyalty card. The card is supplied by Brouha (the company is currently employing PVC cards with passive EPC Gen 2
RFID inlays made with Impinj
's Monza 4D chip
). When a user first obtains the card, the text on that card instructs the customer to send a text message from his or her mobile phone to a specific address, after which the phone number and the unique ID number encoded to the card's EPC RFID inlay
are automatically linked together in Brouha software residing on the company's cloud-based server.