Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends
How new technologies are modifying our way of life

lundi 19 juillet 2004

Three months ago, Nokia introduced the first RFID phone kit (check "RFID Coming to a Cell Phone Near You" for more). Now, in "Developing RFID-Enabled Phones," RFID Journal says a new report from ABI Research predicts that within 5 years, 50% of cell phones will include RFID chips to use Near Field Communication (NFC), a two-way technology. Here is how you'll use it. While walking down the street, you'll see a poster for a movie you want to see. By pointing your phone at the poster, you will be connected to a website, buy the ticket and be charged through the credit card information stored in your smart phone. Of course, other usages might severely affect your privacy. But as the technology is already being tested, I guess we'll have to deal with it.

Here is the introduction of the article.

Some major cell phone manufacturers are preparing the release communication devices incorporating RFID technology that they hope will change the way consumers buy products, services and use their credit cards. According to a new report from ABI Research ["Near-Field Communications"], within a few years, users of cell phones and other handheld devices will use near field communication (NFC) to access services and buy products simply by holding their own device close to another one.

Here is how the technology works.

NFC technology uses short-range RFID transmissions that provide easy and secure communications between various devices. That means that, for example, making a reservation could be as simple as holding your phone close (less than 20 centimeters) to a poster or advertising billboard. Without ever dialing a number or speaking to anyone on the phone, you’d be able to purchase concert tickets, book hotel rooms and make other types of reservations and have these transactions charged to a credit card using account information stored in the handheld device or phone.
These transactions can be done without user configuration. In other words, the RFID tag inside the device will automatically connect, via the cellular connection or through NFC-enabled Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to the appropriate Web site so you can learn about the product or service, transfer content such as audio or video files, or carry out a commercial transaction.
"NFC is interesting because it is a peer-to-peer communication protocol [a communication model in which devices link directly to each other, without the intervention of any intermediary device or system], enabling two [RFID] cards to talk, while also simultaneously being an active and passive RFID solution," says Erik Michielsen, a director at ABI Research, which is based in Oyster Bay, N.Y.
Since all devices are equipped with built-in RFID readers, two-way communication is possible Depending on the type of NFC device, data transfer rates will be 106, 212, or 424 kbps. To make this work, an NFC chip embedded in a phone can act as an RFID reader when the phone is on and a passive smart label or RFID tag when the phone is off. NFC chips can hold 64 to 128 bits of memory Data, which would be likely to include an identification number initially, would be encrypted before it is transmitted.

Who's working on this technology?

Manufacturers of the NFC chips would include the same companies that currently make RFID tags, labels or chips, including Philips, TI, Infineon, Sony, ASK and Inside Contactless. ABI Research sees NFC-enabled cell phones as the initial driver in the market. Consumers can expect the first NFC-equipped handsets to come on the market in 2005. By 2009, ABI estimates that up to 50 percent of the cell phones is use will be NFC-enabled.

And as I said above, NFC is currently being tested.

According to Michielsen, Visa and Universal Music each have already done trials of NFC-enabled cell phones with Philips. In addition, Visa and Nokia recently completed a trial together involving NFC-enabled cell phones in Finland. These trials focused on payment and transaction security.

Finally, to check how RFID-enabled phones can be used today, here is a link to a Flash presentation showing the Nokia RFID phone kit used by a field office professional.

Sources: Claire Swedberg, RFID Journal, July 9, 2004; ABI Research and Nokia websites

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