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MoBeam secures $4.9 million Series A round

Scanning coupons or tickets from your phone will soon get a little easier

Technology trends and news by Nathan Pensky
October 2, 2011 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/1fb6

If you've bought tickets to a Broadway show online, you can now avoid having to go to will call. Rather you can pull up the ticket on your phone. Or for those who would love using coupons but hate the hassle of clipping them, now you can redeem those coupons with your phone. Now that's convenient!

New mobile tech company MoBeam has secured $4.9 million in a Series A round from yet2Ventures, Samsung, Matsui, and an undisclosed list of private investors to help bring this new technology to market.

The Cupertino-based company, which announced the funding early Monday morning, will use these funds to expand production of its patented Light-Based Communication technology. The tech allows mobile devices to transmit digital bar-codes to be scanned at retail counters.

MoBeam, which was founded in 2010, produces technology that bridges the gap between rapidly developing mobile technology and retail scanners that still use "red laser" Point of Sale (POS) retail scanners. MoBeam technology is mostly applicable to the bar codes of digital coupons, loyalty cards, and gift cards, which can be displayed on the screens of mobile devices but not read with ordinary retail scanners.

"The screens that we see on smart phones are getting better and better every day, with high definition and high resolution, all those characteristics," said MoBeam CEO Chris Sellers, in an interview with Vator News.

"But the technology that allows us to use the screens the way we ordinarily do—to watch TV, watch movies on our phones—[they] don’t work with retail POS scanners for some pretty simple reasons, simple physics. [MoBeam uses] Light-Based Communication (LBC), [with] an on-board light source to beam that bar-code directly into the traditional POS scanner."

MoBeam combines LBC with current Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. Said Sellers, in reference to his company's development of NFC tech, "We have a combination patent of MoBeam’s light-based technology and NFC technology."

Further elaborating on mobeam's LBC, Sellers said that the technology would be installed not as software or a downloaded app.  "We install at the operating level—at the Android level or the Windows level—on the device, during the manufacturing process," he said. "There’s no building material cost to the handset makers. It’s a very small piece of code, so it doesn’t take up any discernable memory."

Coming to market early 2012

When asked when MoBeam technology would be available for mobile customers, Sellers said, "We are in negotiation, and in some cases final negotiation, with virtually every handset maker out there today. We have working prototypes across five different operating system handset makers... We’d like to see phones in the market before the end of the year. ...And we’re talking about tens of millions [of devices] at that level."

In addition to enabling consumers to scan bar codes at POS stations from their mobile devices, MoBeam's technology gathers intelligence for retailers, which appear to be a future client for MoBeam.

Sellers expanded on this, saying, "[B]y being able to watch and monitor (with permission obviously) consumer behaviors in downloading content and using content, we’re better able to one-track usage, to raise the quality of offers to an individual. We can better refine our messages. We can target geography. All of those things are possible when we have a device in the individual cell phone. 

"Today, if you think about the distribution of coupons and mobile advertising, the business model is to pay for distribution. It’s a “cost per thousand” type of calculation, and then you look at yield and coupon redemption is around 1.5%. So it’s a very, very inefficient distribution model. ...[W]ith the advent of this technology in the mobile device, all you would ever pay for is when a coupon is used. It's a fundamental boost to the economics and the efficiency of your media."

Ben DuPont, a general partner of yet2Ventures, will sit as chairman on mobeam's board of directors. On the subject of Dupont's leadership, Sellers said, "Ben is the most dynamic, energetic, and, frankly, well-connected individual that I’ve run across in many, many years. He’s an absolute dynamo and is in love with our technology."

[Image Credit: mobeam.com]

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