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NFC Research Lab Rolls Out Smart Posters

The Austrian lab has deployed posters embedded with RFID tags so passersby in the town of Hagenberg can use RFID-enabled mobile phones to download information about local tourist sites.
By Rhea Wessel
Aug 13, 2008The NFC Research Lab at the Hagenberg campus of Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences has rolled out a smart-poster application utilizing NFC technology that provides tourists with information about the town of Hagenberg. The application is the first of its kind in that country, according to the project's partners.

The project, launched last January, includes 20 informational signs and maps embedded with Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID tags that have been erected around the city in scenic outlooks and other areas. NFC employs short-range 13.56 MHz RFID technology to transmit information securely from one NFC device to another. Each poster features an RFID tag embedded beneath an NFC logo. Using an NFC-enabled mobile phone, a passerby can scan the tagged poster by holding the phone close to that logo and download text and pictures on the phone's display regarding tourist sites around town, such as the local castle.

Josef Langer (right) and Upper Austria's Minister for Economic Affairs, Viktor Sigl, demonstrate the RFID technology used for the smart posters.

The phone downloads that data from an Internet server provided by Nexperts, a spin-off of the lab and a partner in the project. Nexperts manages the tags' content via its Content Management System, which can be used for other NFC-based tourist information systems as well. Additional sponsors in the project include mobile operator Mobilkom and NXP Semiconductors. Mobilkom, NXP and other companies support the lab, which conducts a variety of NFC-related trials and research. The lab's work is also supported by Austria's Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology.

"The smart-poster project is a full application with the servers running in the background and information available in real time," says Josef Langer, a professor at the university who runs the lab and is also a shareholder of Nexperts. "It's a model project for other cities and tourism regions. Anyone could use it—they only need to buy the tags.". Currently, Langer acknowledges, the smart posters are not used that frequently, since few people have NFC-enabled mobile phones. But visitors to the city can borrow a Nokia 6131 phone from the NFC Research Lab to test the smart posters.

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