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ViaTag System Turns Cars Into Contactless Payment Devices

MotionID's solution includes EPC Gen 2 RFID windshield stickers that let drivers pay for services at car parking lots, restaurants and other drive-through businesses.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 19, 2011German startup company MotionID Technologies has developed a system that it envisions could change the way people purchase goods and services, using RFID tags attached to a car's windshield to pay for parking as well as paying for hamburgers at a drive-through, or services at a carwash, or gas station. The same technology could also be used by rental car agencies to manage the parking of vehicles. Initially, MotionID's ViaTag system, developed with help from the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics, where the technology was tested, is in use by parking lots in northern Germany.

The ViaTag system consists of two tags—both capable of conducting financial transactions. Users can sign up for the service by visiting the ViaTag Web site and receiving a EPC 2 passive UHF RFID windshield sticker. They can also receive a ViaTag Pacc plastic card with a built-in high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz passive RFID tag complying with the ISO 14443 standard. Each sticker and card has a unique ID number that is linked to data provided by the user during the sign-up process.

The ViaTag windshield sticker contains an EPC Gen 2 passive UHF RFID inlay.
The windshield sticker is attached to a car, while the Pacc, the size of a credit card, is designed for use by a consumer when not inside the car. For example, if driving a car other than the one fitted with a windshield tag, a driver can use the Pacc card for parking or other services involving the untagged vehicle. In addition, the driver could park in a mall's parking lot, leave the car, and visit a store, where he would present his Pacc card, have it read in order to link it to parking validation so that he would not be charged a parking fee when he leaves the mall.

The solution has been under development and then tested for several years, says Christian Utz, MotionID's CEO. The initial concept was a system that would make car parking easier, without requiring the driver to open a window or come to a full stop at a parking lot security gate. Instead of retrieving a paper ticket upon arrival and then handing that ticket over upon exiting, along with providing a credit card or cash, the driver would simply approach the gate, where a fixed reader would capture her ID and automatically raise the gate to allow her to proceed..

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