The era of digitally connected garments and the circular economy is here, and YKK is ready to bring something to the table. Our TouchLink® technology provides the ability to digitally connect to the internet via a smartphone through near-field communication.
What is Near-Field Communication (NFC)?
Powered by near-field communication (NFC) technology, TouchLink® serves as an access point to the internet when tapped by a smartphone. NFC is a method of digital information transfer between two devices at close range and is made possible through chips readable by most new smartphones on the market. In the case of TouchLink® technology, the passive NFC technology is encased in a durable molded TPU zipper puller designed to handle the demands of everyday living. Built to endure a lifetime of washing, severe weather, and rugged use, the technology is always on, has no moving parts and requires no power source.
The Need for TouchLink® Zipper
Pending regulations within the EU requiring digital product passports, and the industry drive to eliminate unnecessary hang tags, TouchLink® zipper becomes the perfect solution for having all necessary information embedded that would otherwise be included on a hang tag. As TouchLink® technology can allow access to information regarding the garment’s manufacturing, material content, and brand warranty and care instructions, it is able to function as a permanent, more sustainable hang tag. Having this knowledge forever attached to the garment reduces resale barriers, fulfills upcoming EU regulations, and gives more value to the product.
In addition to an evolving sustainable apparel landscape, the use of digital technologies such as QR codes and fabric patches are on the rise. TouchLink® technology offers unique benefits over those solutions. By embedding an NFC chip within the rubber-injected puller of the TouchLink® zipper to protect it from the elements, washing, and usage, we present a user-friendly and durable fastening solution for our technology-driven future.
“Digital connection points are often placed in vulnerable sections of a garment, such as a hang tag or fabric patch, which may be removed or bent by the user respectively,” says YKK Senior Product Development Manager John Holliday. “By placing the connection point (NFC chip) in the zipper, it is protected and optimized for long-term use.”
Consumer Engagement and New Business Opportunities
Since zippers are already commonplace, integrating NFC technology into the TouchLink® zipper puller gives consumers a basis of engagement they are already familiar with. Tapping a smartphone with NFC capabilities against the puller can enable users to unlock a range of tailored brand experiences. With TouchLink® sliders, brands can stay connected to their customers even after the purchase of the garment. This ongoing engagement may enhance customers’ experiences with an article of clothing and deepen brand-consumer connection.
New business possibilities TouchLink® technology can help enable include, but are not limited to, rental and resale. With product information permanently attached to garments, consumers are granted easy access to necessary product information, in turn making companies’ operations smoother.
A challenge brands have with their rental business is the need to track garments. TouchLink® technology makes this much easier to do as it allows a unique ID to be permanently linked to each individual garment. Simply scanning the TouchLink® puller can allow brands to check rentals in and out of their system. They can also load instructions regarding use or care of the garment that the customer can access with their smart phone.
TouchLink® zipper also contributes to our sustainability efforts by providing recyclers the necessary information needed to identify materials used and any components that may pose challenges during recycling.
TouchLink® Software Partners
To give TouchLink® technology its amazing range of capabilities we have partnered with the leading software companies specializing in connected garments. Imagination is the only limit on the exciting applications TouchLink® technology can provide!