Target Brands, Inc., a subsidiary of Target Corporation, (TGT:NYSE), is at it again, getting another gift card patent. This time, the patent is for a “thermochromic” gift card (the same technology used in mood rings).
This most recent gift card patent issued to Target (see another news item about Target Gift Cards and patents, here), issued on December 8, 2009. The patent is Patent No. 7,628,336 and is entitled: “Transaction card with thermochromic feature”.
You can check out the full patent below.
Apparently, the patent describes a way to create a gift card that can change color or look when someone touches part of the face of the card (body heat changes the color of the material used on the face of the card). One of the examples given in the description is that a gift card could display a gift message (like “happy birthday”) when the recipient puts their finger on a gift box shown on the face of the card.
Maybe Target should go the full mood ring route, and have the gift card change colors based on the shoppers mood? (Maybe green for someone in a shopping mood, and red for someone who is trying to save money?).
Here’s the background provided in the application by Target:
Stored-value cards and other transaction cards come in many forms. A gift card, for example, is a type of stored-value card that includes a pre-loaded or selectively loaded monetary value. In one example, a consumer buys a gift card having a specified value for presentation as a gift to another person. In another example, a consumer is offered a gift card as an incentive to make a purchase. A gift card, like other stored-value cards, can be “recharged” or “reloaded” at the direction of the bearer. The balance associated with the gift card declines as the gift card is used, encouraging repeat visits to the retailer or other provider issuing the gift card. Additionally, the gift card generally remains in the user’s purse or wallet, serving as an advertisement or reminder to revisit the associated retailer. Gift cards and other stored-value cards provide a number of advantages to both the consumer and the retailer.
Here’s the summary of the gift card filing by Target:
One aspect of the present invention relates to a transaction card including a substrate and a thermochromic feature. The substrate defines a first surface and includes an account identifier linking the transaction card to at least one of an account and a record. The thermochromic feature portrays a character on a portion of the first surface. The character is a being, and an outer perimeter of the character defines an outer perimeter of the thermochromic feature. The thermochromic feature is configured to change between a first state and a second state when an actual temperature of the thermochromic feature reaches an activation temperature of the thermochromic feature. In the first state, the thermochromic feature appears as a first color. In the second state, the thermochromic feature presents at least one of a second color and a graphic not otherwise visible when the thermochromic feature is in the first state. Stored-value cards, methods of providing a stored-value card, and other embodiments of stored-value or transaction cards and associated combinations are also disclosed.
We don’t know if Target has produced this card (a quick review of their Website doesn’t show any cards with this feature). If you’ve seen one, please let us know!