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RFID News Roundup
SAS Airlines begins distributing NFC stickers for frequent flyers' mobile phones; Help Alert solution supports mobile-phone app for student and staff safety; Sony Ericsson selects NXP's NFC solution for its Android-based smartphones; Isle of Wight Festival guests sport contactless wristbands; U.K. mental-health facility deploys AeroScout's patient- and staff-safety solution; Secura Key offers updated card-ordering guide, intros Web training; Libelium adds new sensor board to Smart Cities solution.
Jun 23, 2011—The following are news announcements made during the past week.
SAS Airlines Begins Distributing NFC Stickers for Frequent Flyers' Mobile Phones
Scandinavian Airlines has announced plans to roll out its SAS Smart Pass, a Near Field Communication (NFC) solution aimed at making customer check-in and operations smoother and more time-efficient, across Scandinavia this fall. The SAS Smart Pass was trialed successfully earlier this year among approximately 100 selected Gold members of EuroBonus, the airline's frequent-flyer program, in three Scandinavian cities. The initial trial was conducted from mid-February through mid-April at airports in Malmö, Sweden; Aalborg, Denmark; and Ålesund, Norway. Now, the airline is extending the SAS Smart Pass to all EuroBonus Gold members, and is sending NFC-enabled stickers to their home addresses so that the customers can then affix them to their mobile phones. Each sticker contains a passive 13.56 MHz RFID tag. Some smartphones have built-in NFC capability, but Kristine Mayer, SAS' strategic project manager of product strategy and development, says that "at the moment, the availability of mobile phones equipped with NFC is low in Scandinavia. Therefore, we will offer our most frequent travelers SAS Smart Pass, an NFC-sticker with the same functionality that the customer easily can attach on a mobile phone." The airline will install NFC readers at SAS stations in airports throughout Scandinavia. The interrogators, Mayer says, will be placed at all customer touch points, including self-service kiosks, security points, lounges, tax-free shopping areas and gates.
Help Alert Solution Supports Mobile-Phone App for Student and Staff Safety
PinPoint Technologies, a sister company of RF Technologies, has introduced a mobile application designed to deliver its Help Alert wireless emergency call solution over mobile devices, including iPhones, iPods and iPads. Help Alert is a Wi-Fi-based wireless real-time location system (RTLS) technology (the firm also manufactures a ZigBee-compliant version, though it is mainly marketing its Wi-Fi model). The solution includes a pendant that schoolteachers and staff members can wear so that if a problem arises or tensions escalate, the nearest employee can simply press the button on his or her pendant. A discreet alert will then be instantly transmitted to the appropriate team members, so that they will know who called in the alert, as well as that individual's precise location at the moment that the alert was issued. Each pendant contains a battery-powered Wi-Fi-based RFID tag that transmits a unique ID number associated with an individual user. The tag's 2.4 GHz signal is received by Wi-Fi access points, and that data is forwarded to PinPoint software that calculates the location of the pendant's wearer. With the Help Alert Mobile App, mobile-phone users can add Help Alert functionality to their mobile devices via a free download. The mobile application, according to Bryan Tracey, PinPoint Technologies' VP, provides incident responders (such as administrators or teachers) with the name and a photo of the person who triggered the alarm; real-time visibility on a map in that person's mobile app, indicating the alarming pendant's location; and the ability to acknowledge the alarm from within the application. "That acknowledgement is shared with others who may be viewing the incident on computers or their mobile devices, and is also communicated to the person with the alarming pendant showing them with an LED that help is on the way," he states. The app also includes the ability to ultimately clear an alarm, and to record an explanation of the incident for reporting purposes. In addition, Tracey reports, PinPoint Technologies is providing customers with a similar mobile application for asset tracking and visibility, and Help Alert is being provided to health-care facilities, hotels and public venues. In 2008, Shorewood High School, located near Milwaukee, became one of the first schools to install the Help Alert system (see Wisconsin High School Gets 'Help Alert').
Sony Ericsson Selects NXP's NFC Solution for Its Android-based Smartphones
NXP Semiconductors has announced that its Near Field Communication (NFC) technology has been selected by Sony Ericsson for inclusion in its Android-based smartphones. According to NXP, Sony Ericsson—a mobile handset manufacturer focused on communications and entertainment—will use NFC to further enhance its consumers' mobile experiences, thereby creating a portfolio of smartphones that enable mobile transactions. Using simple touch gestures, consumers will be able to make purchases or connect to a point-of-sale (POS) terminal, ticketing terminal or location-based promotional tag simply and securely, using their NFC-enabled smartphones. NXP, which provides complete embedded, secure NFC solutions, recently announced that its NFC software is open-source on the Android platform, and that it enables the Google Wallet application (see RFID News Roundup: Google Unveils NFC-based Mobile-Payments Service), which is NFC technology that will allow consumers to pay for goods and redeem coupons simply by touching or waving their NFC-enabled phones near a receiver. In its Android-based smartphones, Sony Ericsson intends to utilize NXP's PN65 NFC solution, which integrates an NFC radio controller, the embedded secure element and NFC software in a single device. The embedded secure element employs advanced cryptography to offer a high level of security for mobile transactions, NXP reports, and is compliant with the ISO 14443 or ISO 18092 standards. "Building on Sony Ericsson's leadership in Android and mobile gaming, the integration of Near Field Communication into our Android-based Xperia portfolio is another step in delivering the most entertaining smartphones," said Jan Uddenfeldt, Sony Ericsson's CTO, in a prepared statement. "NFC offers our consumers the ability to broaden their communication experience beyond the phone, and we are poised to drive the development of new, exciting and creative entertainment experiences."
Isle of Wight Festival Guests Sport Contactless Wristbands
ID&C, a U.K.-based provider of security, promotional and contactless payment wristbands, has announced that its prepaid contactless payment wristband was used successfully at the recent Isle of Wight Festival, an event that dates back to the late 1960s. This year, the festival featured such musicians as Paul McCartney, Jay Z and the Strokes. The festival was held on June 10-12, and attendees in the VIP arena were provided with the wristbands, preloaded with £30 ($48). The wristbands could be used to purchase food and beverages with a simple tap of the wrist, according to ID&C. The project, led by MasterCard, included a research element in which the credit-card company queried VIP attendees about their use of the wristbands. The research found that the wristbands were the festivalgoers' preferred payment method, ID&C reports, with 100 percent of users stating that they'd use the wristbands again at other festivals, concerts and sporting events. "Festivals are all about a great shared experience—the music, bands, food and drink all add to the atmosphere, " said John Giddings, an Isle of Wight festival promoter, in a prepared statement. "New innovations such as this really add to the experience. I'm proud to have pioneered the wristbands at the Isle of Wight Festival and hope to see them developed further for future events.'' ID&C's contactless wristband projects have grown rapidly in 2011 with the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, held in Indio, Calif., in April 2011. The company has also secured two further contracts for RFID access-control wristbands, for events to be held later this year in the United States: Chicago's Lollapalooza, and Austin City Limits, in Texas. The firm's RFID access-control wristbands are available in a variety of versions, including high-frequency (HF), low-frequency (LF) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID technologies; the company can also provide readers and back-end systems and databases, as required to support the solution.
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