Printed Electronics Now: Identiv Partners with NHL’s Nashville Predators to Give Unique Experience to Fans

Nashville Predators Rinne #35 Jersey

Article by David Savastano, Editor syndicated via Printed Electronics Now.

Sports fans love their teams, often looking to collect memorabilia of their favorite players as well as following whatever news they can gather. Thanks to Identiv, there are new digital connections being made between teams and their fans.

Working with the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Nashville Predators and CollectID, which specializes on jersey experiences, Identiv created NFC-enabled tags that were embedded in the 500 limited-edition jerseys of recently retired Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne.

The nfc tag accomplishes two things: it authenticates the jersey, but it also allows the fans to connect with the team with specialized digital content.

Amir Khoshniyati, VP and GM, Transponder Business for Identiv, said that embedding an NFC tag is a common application, but it was a first for the NHL.

“It’s not a new application per se when it comes to embedded garment, but it’s the first NHL team to roll out a digitized jersey so it was really exciting,” said Khoshniyati. “We’ve done a lot of soccer jerseys around the world and NBA jerseys with Nike, so this is a new sporting arena for us.”

The Rinne jersey was unique because his jersey crafted with a special experience for the fans. The fans who bought the jersey can use their phone to register their unique jersey and receive the digital content.

“When you connect with the jersey you could get all his career stats and more,” Khoshniyati said. “It is a dynamic experience – you can get a different experience every time you engage with the jersey.”

This experience can be changed frequently. 

“CollectID can change the experience at any time as the IDs are already married into the URL – they can give live updates, scores and more,” said Khoshniyati. “The plan is to bring fans and the team together, and allows the team to get to know more about their fans, who can enjoy more experiences.”

“Adding this technology to the Pekka Rinne retirement jersey offers us the ability to communicate directly with our fans in a very targeted fashion while delivering exclusive content to them,” said Dave Urso, SVP of operations for the Nashville Predators and Bridgestone Arena, the Predators’ home.

Khoshniyati noted that in this case, Nashville sends the data to CollectID to upload, but other major brands like Nike prefer to own the information through their social media channels, and upload the information themselves.

As for any challenges for the Renne project, it really is similar to most embedded tags in apparel. Identiv used the NXP NTAG 424 DNA chips for its tags.

“You always have to figure out the reliability of the tag through the wash and dry cycles,” said Khoshniyati. “We also understand where to place the tag so they can get the optimal NFC experience. The model of taking the tag and embedding them and having them outlive the garment in terms of washing and drying cycles has been mastered and now we are seeing more and more demand.”

Khoshniyati noted that Nashville and the NHL are happy with the experience, adding that there are a couple of other projects Identiv is starting with the NHL.

“The teams said that the engagement rates are at an all-time high, and it doesn’t require a line of sight like QR codes,” added Khoshniyati.

Soccer remains the largest user of this technology.

“I would say the lion share are the soccer teams,” said Khoshniyati. “That experience was more of an international one, and went through three iterations. We are now working with one of the top five soccer teams in the world.

“The National Basketball Association (NBA) is picking up. We stitched an NFC tag into the jersey, and if you tap it, it gives you prompts to go the Nike Connect app and you get a unique experience, such as team information, Spotify playlists, and Twitter feeds that are updated every day.”