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South Korean Consortium Launches EPC Gen 2 Reader for Mobile Phones

Developed by a group that includes SK Telecom, an inexpensive RFID interrogator in the form of a USIM card is already being used to verify the authenticity of whiskey.
By Dave Friedlos
Jan 24, 2011South Korean businesses can now track and trace items throughout the supply chain, simply by waving a mobile smart phone over a product, following the release of an RFID reader Universal Subscriber Identity Module (USIM) card. Developed by a consortium that includes South Korean mobile telephony and communications provider SK Telecom, fabless semiconductor company Radiopulse and mobile solutions firm Ajantech, the USIM card features a 900 MHz RFID reader chip made by Phychips. Described by the consortium as a world's first, the card enables mobile phones to read passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags complying with the EPC Gen 2 (ISO 18000-6C) standard, and to serve as a substitute for traditional fixed interrogators. The consortium was commissioned in July 2009 by South Korea's Ministry of Knowledge Economy, to develop advanced RFID-related technologies.

Phones with the RFID reader USIM card have already been tested at Incheon International Airport's cargo terminal to track imports and exports. The phones are currently in use at five Korean companies to track bottles of whiskey, and are set to be rolled out early this year at South Korea's second-largest pharmaceutical firm.


An application developed by SK Telecom enables users to employ a mobile phone fitted with a USIM RFID card to read a liquor bottle's government-mandated RFID tag, and verify its authenticity.
Yoon Jin-Hee, the senior manager of SK Telecom's wireless personal area network (WPAN) development team, says existing RFID readers are often too expensive and heavy for consumers to easily use. A smart phone containing an RFID reader in the form of a USIM card, he notes, is lighter and easier to use than most other interrogators.

"Users simply need to operate the phone with an RFID reader USIM card inserted, and read tags attached to products via wireless connection," Jin-Hee states. "For instance, when a tag code is read, information is sent from the server through wireless networks like 3G and Wi-Fi, and appear on the user's mobile screen. It allows users to receive product history information, and helps confirm the authenticity of goods. If a dedicated application is already installed on the smart phone, information can be downloaded. If not, Smart Agent [software] provides a simple RFID service, such as text, image and hyperlink."

The RFID reader USIM card utilizes a serial peripheral interface (SPI) to control the connection between its USIM chip and its RFID reader chip, Jin-Hee explains. "The service can be provided through all handsets that support USIM," he says, "as it uses an ISO 7816 hardware interface, a standard interface for USIM to connect to application programs of handsets."

USER COMMENTS

Fola Daniel 2011-02-08 12:44:29 AM
MD This is a good solution but i want to confirm that will there be a cost attached to the verification from the Telecomunication company each time the bottle of Whiskey is verified by the RFID Mobile Phone Reader? Since the RFID Phone works through the 3G network of SK Telecom, the company will charge the user/verifier each time he verify a bottle of Whisky, please confirm/explain. Thanks
Jonguu Ryu 2011-03-01 11:58:57 PM
UHF RFID USIM As far as I know, SK Telecom does not charge any cost for verification service in Korea. PHYCHIPS will open a booth in RFID Journal Live in April and do demo using UHF RFID USIM.

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