Could a system be developed for a mobile phone that could automatically confirm that someone had purchased a ticket at an entrance gate to an event, thereby eliminating the need to manually check tickets? If so, what elements would make up the solution?
Yes, this is possible—and, in fact, it has been done in Japan (see Japan Gets Digital Ticket System).
To set up a similar system, you would need to create a mobile phone application that would allow people to purchase tickets via their mobile phone and then send this information to a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip inside the phone. There would need to be some security involved, to ensure that the person with the phone had actually purchased the ticket, but your system could send a verification code to accomplish this.
You would need to install NFC readers in the turnstiles at the theater. The turnstiles would communicate with the phone’s NFC tag. It would request a verification code, and then allow the person to pass through the turnstile once that code was matched with the transaction confirmation in the back-end system.
One drawback to such a setup is that not every cell phone has an NFC chip in it. However, there are stickers with NFC transponders that could be placed on the phone. If you issued these to moviegoers, then a unique serial number could be stored in the chip. When it was read at the turnstile, the back-end system would check if the person associated with that ID had purchased a valid ticket. If he or she had, the turnstile would open. The downside to this approach is that it might be possible for someone to duplicate a tag.
If any of our readers can suggest a way to secure this system, they are invited to post information below.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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