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Do we really need men’s cologne to be connected?

I’ve never been all that much of a cologne guy, but I do remember as a kid seeing ads that were either a bit edgy and suggestive, or a bit funny and suggestive. And there were a lot of those ads on TV and in print back in the day. The main one in the funny/suggestive category was for Hai Karate. In the edgy/suggestive category, one that comes to mind was for Paco Rabanne.

Fast forward a few decades, and I haven’t given all that much thought to Paco Rabanne. And if I had given it much thought, that thought would probably have been that Paco Rabanne cologne was no longer around.

Turns out, Paco Rabanne is still around. And, amazingly (to me at least), it’s gone high tech.

They’ve come out with a new men’s fragrance. Phantom comes in a bottle that looks like a robot (which tells me that, even though they’re billing the robot as a “wingman”, they’ve pretty much moved away from edgy/suggestive). And in the robot’s head (i.e., the cap), they’ve embedded an STMicroelectronics NFC (near-field communication) tag chip, a ST25TV, from ST Microelectronics, a major European semiconductor chip maker.

A number of different organizations worked on this new product, and there is some cool technology at play:

Together, the partners worked out how to embed a general-purpose, NFC-certified Type 5 tag IC for maximum operating volume and range along with a custom small antenna into a space-constrained perfume bottle cap where the parasitic effects of the shiny chrome-metal finishing can wreak havoc on connectivity. Using NFC eliminates the need for a battery in the cap, as the tag gets powered by the contactless fields between the tag IC and the connecting device —typically a smartphone, or tablet.

…The ST25TV is part of ST’s NFC/RFID tag IC series, which offers specific modes to protect tag access, including kill and untraceable modes, 64-bit encrypted password with a failed attempt counter to protect read/write access to user memory, and a digital signature that can be used to prove the origin of the chip in cloning detection. A tamper detection option is also available. The ST25TV tag ICs also contain a configurable EEPROM with 60-year data retention and can be operated from a 13.56 MHz long-range RFID reader or an NFC phone.

The contactless interface on the ST25TV devices is compatible with the ISO/IEC 15693 standard and NFC Forum Type 5 tag. The ST25TV is NFC Forum certified, which ensures interoperability with all NFC-enabled smartphones. (Source: Embedded.com)

The fragrance itself was developed using technology, using AI and neuroscience to pick out the right combination of ingredients. But it’s the technology used to create the first “connected fragrance” that’s getting the attention.

I’m always proud – justifiably so, IMHO – of the remarkable things our industry contributes to the betterment of mankind in so many arenas: healthcare, communications, transportation, entertainment…But some of the uses of technology just strike me as a bit silly. I know that Paco Rabanne is trying to engage their customers, and build loyalty by offering extras like access to those playlists. It’s a marketing thing, not a technology thing. Seriously, though, do we really need a men’s cologne to be connected?