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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
"There will be posters with one theme (for example, weather) and posters with multi-themes (for example, coupons and promotions, or making reservations)," Prato explains. Glued to the poster's back side, at the spot where the NFC logo is printed, is an NFC tag encoded with a URL where information or services touted on the poster can be accessed. By touching their mobile phones up to the logos on the posters, tourists will be able to download the information, services or coupons onto their phones.

"We will also be able to change promotions in real time," Prato says, "without changing the infrastructure."

Coupons and promotions that are downloaded onto a phone can then be redeemed at participating restaurants, and at other locations that have been equipped with NFC-enabled POS terminals. The pilot will begin with 20 POS terminals, then ramp up to 50 within the first three months.

"There is also the idea, at the beginning, to show the coupon in the phone in those places that are not yet equipped with the POS," Prato says. In some cases, the coupon culled from an NFC-enabled poster will contain bar codes because, as he explains, some places will not be equipped with NFC POS, but will have bar-code scanners, and those coupons can be redeemed by holding the phone's screen—displaying the bar-coded coupon—up to a bar-code scanner.

Again, the purpose of the trial is to test interoperability among a variety of products and services, so StoLPaN opted to include bar-code and contactless smart card technology—which are existing technologies already in commercial use—to determine how the different technologies could work with, and be a part of, a larger solution focused on Near Field Communications. "This is the reason why we are using phones, cards, bar codes, SMS, etc. from different makers," says Prato.

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