TI07 - January 20

Push everyone’s buttons

The age-old expression “pushing your buttons” will now take on a whole different meaning with the innovative technology that Fábrica de Botões Elite took to MODtissimo’s last edition. It’s all about a new generation of buttons, able to communicate with smartphones and store information thanks to an incorporated chip. A revolutionary solution that might even replace the manufacturer’s labels on clothing, and change the communication strategies, both within companies as with the public

António Moreira Gonçalves

“The idea came to me when I found an app used at a laundry to watch the clothes’ movements. At the time they were using a piece of plastic with the integrated technology, and I realized that the thing could be inside the buttons themselves. There was no need for an extra piece”, relays Paulo Neves, the strongman of Elite, a family business created 47 years ago, in Ribeirão, Famalicão, which currently employs five people.

The secret behind Elite Buttons 4.0 lies in the chip containing the Near Field Communication (NFC) technology – the same that is used in contactless banking cards or hotel room keys. “This solution has an edge since it does not require a specific reader. Any smartphone, through a free app, can have access to the information carried inside the button “, explains the entrepreneur.

Having worked the concept, Paulo understood that an opportunity was arising. “Here in Portugal no one had ever heard about this. In Italy, I found a company that offers the same product, but as data management service, which requires customers to provide their information. That is not what we want to do”, he clarifies.

Alternatively, Elite merely wants to supply the buttons so that customers can adapt the software to their own needs. The chip may be used to manage stocks in a company – with a unique serial number, provides the possibility to reliably track all garments – or by a brand to communicate with its audience, by introducing the information inside the button.

“The technology has a huge marketing potential because the information can be altered and updated even after the item is sold. As the button only contains the link, the page it redirects to may be changed as many times as one needs”, highlights the company’s CEO.

At MODtissimo, the project attracted the attention of the audiences, and made an impression on the jury of the iTechStyle Awards contest, who then nominated the project in the Best Accessory category. Besides, Paulo Neves has revealed that their customers are increasingly curious: “After showing it to people, very often they call me back in order for me to explain it once again. Clients realize this is something new and interesting. They think about it and want to get to know its full potential later on”.

Now that the technology has been perfected, Elite can apply it to any button with a minimum diameter of 10 millimetres. The next goal is to take this project to the big fashion brands. “This product is interesting mainly for those who work with the public”, claims Paulo Neves, whose concept is already being studied by the Executive Marketing MBA students of Universidade Católica’s Porto Business School.

The Product

Elite Buttons 4.0
Developed by Fábrica de Botões Elite

What are they? A new generation of buttons with Near Field Communication (NFC) incorporated technology, which enables information storage and smartphone connectivity What are they for? They can be used to manage stocks or to communicate with an audience Project Status? Under production, and already nominated for the iTechStyle Awards