18 Mar 2010

Applying NFC to Real World Applications (Page 2 of 2)

NFC is a technology innovation that enables brands and operators to connect with their target communities through these new services. Connected lifestyle devices are integral to every aspect of our lives, and for this reason NFC-enabled mobile devices have the potential to transform the way we pay for goods and services.

Ticketing: Some of the most popular examples of NFC applications in mobile devices have initially focussed on contactless ticketing pilots, which have taken place across the world. For end users, the convenience of using their mobile phone to pay for the train or bus fare has proved incredibly popular.

Pilots initiatives in France, Germany and the Netherlands have been successful in showing how NFC enabled mobile devices are an improvement on the existing "smart" card solution already in operation. The NFC system allows users to "touch in" and "touch out" and the start and end of their journey as usual, but also allows them to access additional information and services, such as checking and topping up their balance or monitoring latest travel information.

Payment: Users of an NFC enabled mobile device are not necessarily limited to topping up a card. It is possible to add multiple credit and debit cards to the NFC device, enabling the user to use their phone to pay for goods or services at virtually any outlet. Clearly, this scenario of a "virtual wallet" would need retailers such as shops, restaurants and bars, to support NFC with the roll out of new payment hardware, which would need to take place over time. However, global events such as the London Olympics in 2012 are set to kick-start this m-payment with possible plans including having smart tickets for the Games which can double-up as contactless payment and travel cards to create a cashless Olympic Village.

Juniper Research estimates while contactless payments are already established in Asia, by 2014 North America and Western Europe will also see high growth in these services, with the total global mobile payments made via NFC services growing to more than US$110 billion. Successful trials have already taken place in France with Disneyland Paris and in Australia with the operator Telstra.

Sharing: Mobile devices are packed with photos, videos, games and other content which we want to share. NFC technology enables a simple process whereby users touch devices to share content such as music, videos and photographs. This has the potential to be driven on all levels of society - from the youth audience sharing videos and music to corporate level data exchanges involving business cards and spreadsheets.

NFC could also be used to transform the advertising and marketing industries by making posters and other promotional materials NFC compatible. End users who see posters advertising products of interest will be able to flash their phone past the advert to download information to their handsets and pass it on to their friends. By sharing information both ways, the marketer can offer users an incentive in exchange for information or interest in a product or service.

One example of this interactivity is an exciting collaboration with Centre Pompidou, an art museum in Paris. The project, known at Smart Muse, will use NFC technology to allow visitors to wave Sagem Wireless NFC-enabled mobile phones near exhibits equipped with NFC tags in order to learn more about the artist and the work, watch videos and listen to interviews. Users will also be able to share information and views about the exhibition via social networking sites such as Facebook. The system will be implemented to coincide with the new Teen Gallery's opening later this year. Meanwhile, Nice in the South of France will be the first city where NFC technology will be widely deployed with an NFC Tour Guide of the old city centre. The Smart Muse project is a consortium of Sagem Wireless, INSIDE Contactless, and CONNECTHINGS, a pioneer in providing tags and contextualized-location- and time-based-content management systems, and is funded with a grant from France's Ministry of Economy, Industry and Employment.

The possibilities for NFC technology are virtually endless. As the infrastructure environment develops, more and more applications will be unveiled as the technology is rolled out. As more people use NFC and it becomes more ubiquitous, so further applications will be generated.

NFC applications summary

While NFC supports and enables multiple applications on handsets, the first phase of its adoption is already seeing NFC being utilised for payment and ticketing in the transport sector. Pilots and trials have proved successful around the world, and increasingly innovative and compelling services are being designed to exploit the connectivity it enables. With more and more NFC compatible devices being launched by device manufacturers, mobile operators and service providers need to work closely to put in place the infrastructure that will facilitate and drive rollout of the technology.

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About the author

Jerome Nadel is Executive Vice President of Marketing and User Experience, Sagem Wireless and is responsible for bringing innovative user-centric mobile devices to market.

About Sagem Wireless: Sagem Wireless provides customised connected lifestyle devices and services to leading consumer lifestyle brands and mobile network operators worldwide. Using technology innovation and customer insight as strategic tools in the product design process, Sagem Wireless develops a range of connected lifestyle devices personalised to the specific needs of different customer segments. With industry leading technology partners and its own R&D centres based in Europe and Asia, Sagem Wireless offers pre-requisite manufacturing expertise intrinsic to the product design process that relies on both flexibility and the highest level of quality to assure successful entry into new and existing markets.

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