June 30, 2009

So When Are Phones Going to All Have NFC?

All new mobiles will be packing a RFID chip by summer 2010 - ultimately opening up the possibility of your phone also becoming the keys to your car or your house. That's the prediction of Ericsson's VP of systems architecture, Håkan Djuphammar, speaking at the mobile infrastructure company's Business Innovation Forum in Stockholm on Tuesday.

He told delegates: "A year from now basically every new phone that's sold will have [Near Field Communication]. It's a two-way, bio-directional RFID communication link that makes this device work as a tag or as a reader."

Djuphammar said devices with RFID chips will have a secure environment on the SIM card where "trusted identities" or "secure elements" can be downloaded - enabling the phone to take on other roles, such as the keys for your car or house, or a credit card or concert ticket. He said Ericsson is currently working with a utilities company that has 700 separate unmanned facilities and around 15,000 keys - a logistical nightmare it wants to eliminate via the use of RFID-enabled mobile phones.

"They don't know really where those keys are," he said. "So they want to replace all the locks with RFID locks, put RFID-capable phones in the hands of all their personnel and then they can control the access to these sites."

Using RFID in this way would enable a mobile to be assigned to open a door for a certain period of time only - meaning the company could better manage access to its facilities, while also replacing the hassle of dealing with thousands of physical keys.

"All sorts of things will be enabled by [RFID] - a small piece of technology but with an ecosystem around it that opens up tremendous opportunities for innovation," he added.

Mobile phones could also soon become instruments of fraud detection. Djuphammar said credit card companies could make use of mobile user location data and IP mapping to ascertain whether a credit card transaction is taking place in the vicinity of the official card holder and thus judge whether that transaction is likely to be genuine or not.

"In some countries there's a lot of fraud with credit cards so therefore it's in the interest of the credit card issuer to be able to match the position of the phone that belongs to the person who has a credit card. If the phone's close to where the credit card is used the fraud risk is low but suddenly if the phone moves away from where the credit card is used they can be alerted to check that particular transaction - it's most likely fraud because now the phone and the credit card are separated," he explained.

Another example of leveraging location data is to create real-time road traffic maps generated by analysing the speed of mobile phone base station hand-off to ascertain how fast cars are travelling on roads. This data could then be sold to GPS device companies enabling them to provide dynamic travel information to motorists.

Djuphammar said selling access to mobile user information in this way would open up new revenue streams in a "win win" scenario for all parties involved - the end user, the operator and the broker who manages the sharing of that user data.

"That is a typical 'win win' where the operator share their assets/knowledge through a broker, and the GPS company can sell a service to the end user. The end user wins, the GPS service provider wins, the broker provider wins and the operator wins," he added.

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Posted by staff at June 30, 2009 09:46 AM