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Italian Alpine Resort Takes Near Field Communications for Ride

Tourists will be loaned NFC-enabled phones to download information and special offers and make reservations, or receive NFC-enabled contactless smart cards encoded with promotional coupons.
By Beth Bacheldor
The local government of the town of Falcade has selected several hotels, ski resorts and restaurants in that area that have expressed interest in participating in the trial. Initially, only a few hotels and two or three ski resorts near Falcade will have NFC infrastructure up and running in the trial, but Prato says infrastructure will be rolled out continually throughout the winter, and possibly into the summer as well.

At the start of the trial, as tourists arrive at the ski resorts and hotels, they can receive their NFC-enabled phones—mainly the 6131 and 6212 models from Nokia that support ISO 18092, or contactless smart cards supporting ISO 14443—when they check in. Approximately 100 phones and more than 500 smart cards will be issued early on, which tourists will turn in upon leaving the resorts or hotels, so that the phones and cards can be reused. Additional phones and cards will then be added as the trial expands.

The main purpose of the trial is to test the interoperability of NFC services, software and infrastructure, as well as to test how Near Field Communications can work with other existing technologies, such as contactless smart cards and bar-code systems. Services will include such things as weather updates and snow reports, as well as the ability to make reservations. Tourists can access this information by tapping their phones on smart posters with NFC inlays embedded in them. In addition, participants will be able to access special promotions and coupons, as well as utilize the phones to make calls and send text messages.

The smart cards the tourists receive will already have coupons downloaded onto their RFID inlays, which the users can redeem at participating locations by tapping the cards onto the POS terminals. Although the smart cards will have limited capability, Prato says, the consortium wanted to include them to study how the different groups of tourists (those with mobile phones, and those with smart cards) interact with and utilize the NFC-enabled systems.

The trial will also include up to 100 smart posters containing NFC chips, identified by an NFC logo on the face of each poster. "The tourists who will participate in the trial will be instructed how to use the phone, and where," Prato says. "The [smart posters] are printed on a type of plasticized cloth that is resistant to any type of weather and temperature, and will be visible in the halls and reception areas."

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