Rock the Vote Teams Up With Miami Tech Start-Up to Create Mobile Registration Campaign

With voter registration for the

November presidential election closing on October 9, if you haven't

done so already, you may not make the deadline -- unless you have a

smartphone and happen to be standing next to one of ten Rock the

Vote bus bench posters scattered between Morningside and downtown

Miami. The organization contracted Flomio

Inc., a Miami-based tech start-up, to embed the posters with social

media applications that allows people to sign up for their civic duty

with a simple touch of a smartphone's screen.

"Rock the Vote wanted to try

something new to get young people to register through mobile

applications," says Flomio cofounder Tim Ronan. "You can

register in minutes."

The posters contain QR codes, which are those squiggly bar-code-style squares that open up websites and other social-media applications using a bar-code scanner on a smartphone. Or if you're one of those techno geeks with the latest Samsung device, the Galaxy III, you can simply put your phone's screen up against a marked X on the poster.

The X is equipped with an NFC application, which is the technology that allows Galaxy III phone users to share pictures and videos by simply putting the two screens together.

Ronan asserts that Flomio is the first tech firm in Miami to use the NFC application for marketing purposes.

He says Fuel Outdoor Advertising provided them with the ten locations to put up the posters, which have gone up on NE 15th Street and near the Port of Miami on Biscayne Boulevard; on NE 27th Street and North Miami Avenue near the restaurant Jimmy'z and the Electric Pickle nightclub; and NE 38th Street and Second Avenue in the Design District -- to name a few.

"Basically you can use NFC to instantly go to a website or launch a YouTube video or call your mom," Ronan says. "It is the new medium of communication that uses touch to create a connection between your phone and the world around you. The possibilities are infinite."

They certainly are. This week, Samsung Electronics Co. reported record profits thanks to the popularity of its Galaxy devices. In the three months ended in September, Samsung's operating profits jumped from 91 percent, and earnings in the company's mobile phone business surged 93 percent for the quarter since the Galaxy III and Note II debuted in May.

So Flomio is on the right track. Although Ronan says the company is working on developing NFC applications for iO6, the system that runs the new iPhone 5. The company was founded by Ronan and Richard Grundy and John Bullard, who left jobs with Motorola and Microsoft, respectively, to launch Flomio.

Flomio's deal with Rock the Vote is just the latest indicator that Miami's tech start-up scene is flourishing, albeit under the general public's radar.

Last week, the Downtown Development Authority, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez's office, and the University of Miami announced a partnership to provide $25,000 in grants, a year of free space, and lifetime mentoring support to ten local tech companies. It's called Launch Pad Tech. The DD s comitted $460,000 in funding for two years, while the county is providing $1 million over four years to fund the grants. Flomio is one of the firms competing for a spot.

There's also been a flurry of tech-related networkers and gatherings over the past several months, including the AT&T Mobile App Hackathon in August that drew 200 people and the regular monthly meetups for Refresh Miami in August and September were packed with 300 people, according to the Miami Herald.
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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.