VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a gateway that enables the use of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology in commercial Bluetooth handsets and other Bluetooth devices. NFC is a new convenient technology for many everyday situations.
For example, it enables users to pay for purchases and services by holding their mobile device to a payment terminal, or share data between devices. NFC enables users to pay for purchases and services by holding their mobile device to a payment terminal, or share data between devices. NFC is the first standardised technology to be universally introduced in mobile phones and other commercial handsets that is compatible with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.
VTT developed its NFC Bluetooth gateway as part of the project called SmartTouch. It is a matchbox-size prototype module that can transfer information between Bluetooth devices and NFC applications, making it possible to implement NFC applications by using commercially available Bluetooth devices.
NFC technology brings services literally within touching distance, enabling the acquisition and transmission of data between an NFC-enabled handset and the service system. Users can either touch an NFC tag carrying service-related information with their handsets, or touch a specific RFID reader device, e.g. on a bus or at a shop checkout. NFC may also support or offer an alternative to Bluetooth in short-range wireless interaction between handsets and other devices. This also enables the implementation of touch-based mobile services for Bluetooth devices.
VTT foresees NFC technology becoming a part of everyday life in the near future. Potential applications include payment solutions and public transport ticketing systems. The multiple use smart card in the NFC handset can be any limited-value charge card - a city card, library card, cinema ticket, ticket to sports events, etc. Users can manage their cards using their handsets and review the card use log on their phone's display. The technology enables the service provider to deliver the service card to the customer via the mobile network much more cost-efficiently compared with traditional methods.
SmartTouch is the most extensive NFC project in Europe. The project involves the cooperation of 24 industrial and research parties and is managed by VTT. The aim is to pilot the use of NFC technology in various practical environments, identifying both the challenges and opportunities it offers to business.
VTT wins international NFC competition
The first European NFC Competition, Touching the Future, was held last spring. VTT won the first prize in the "Most Innovative NFC proposal of the Year 2007" track with its SeeingEyePhone.
The application is designed to assist visually impaired consumers while shopping in supermarkets. An NFC tag containing information such as price and nutritional information is attached to the store shelf next to each product. The shopper touches the tag with an NFC-enabled phone and the phone reads the information aloud using a voice synthesizer.
The prizes were awarded by the NFC Forum, a non-profit industry association that advances the use of NFC technology and supports its implementation and standardisation. Founded in 2004, the NFC Forum currently has 120 members.
VTT will demonstrate its NFC technology and other mobile solutions at the Mobile Monday Global Summit at Wanha Satama in Helsinki on 10 September 2007.
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