NFC Forum Reveals Winners of Global Competition

The NFC Forum, a non-profit industry association that advances the use of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, announced the winners of its Touching the Future: NFC Forum Global Competition. In the competition, developers in a Commercial Track vied for the honor of having their solutions named “The Best NFC Service of the Year 2008,” while a Research Track recognized “The Most Innovative NFC Research Project of the Year 2008.” First-, second- and third-place winners in each track were chosen by a jury composed of senior and recognized professionals and experts from academia and sponsoring companies. The winners were selected from a total of 20 finalists and over 50 entries from 21 countries. The competition finalists demonstrated their entries at the NFC Developers Summit taking place this week at WIMA in Monaco. The winning entries were announced last night at the competition awards ceremony.

The first-place winner in the Commercial Track is VingCard Elsafe of Norway for its “Signature RFID by VingCard – Electronic Lock for Hotels.” This solution enables hotel guests with NFC-enabled mobile phones to completely bypass the check-in process and unlock their hotel room doors using their phones.

The first-place winner in the Research Track is Lancaster University of the UK for “Touch & Interact: Applied to a Tourist Guide Prototype.” This project uses NFC technology to allow mobile phone handsets and public information screens to share display space, thereby overcoming the screen size limitations of mobile phone displays.

“We congratulate VingCard and Lancaster University for prevailing against dozens of very competitive solutions submitted this year,” said Gerhard Romen, NFC Forum vice chairman. “Both winning submissions demonstrate how effective NFC technology can be in supporting creative, yet simple and elegant, solutions to real-world problems – from unlocking hotel doors to enhancing users’ interactions with their mobile phones.”

The second-place winner in the Commercial Track is Hansaprint of Finland for its “TagAge” solution. Teliasonera of Sweden took third place for “Telia Kvittens.”

In the Research Track, University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis MBDS of France came in second for “Ticket Tap” while third place was awarded to Austria’s University of Applied Sciences for its “Theft Deterrent System for Skis.”

The NFC Forum Global Competition promotes the development and deployment of innovative and exemplary NFC services. The Commercial Track is for NFC services based on a business case; the Research Track is for university students and Research institutions. Both Tracks require a prototype.

Commercial Track entries are evaluated on how successfully and innovatively they meet the needs of key vertical market segments, as well as quality of design and implementation. Research Track submissions are judged on creativity and innovativeness.

VingCard Elsafe, the Commercial Track winner, introduced its Signature RFID electronic lock for hotels in June 2006. It is compatible with ISO 14443 A (MIFARE), 14443 B, and 15693, and is also NFC-compatible. Therefore, NFC-enabled mobile phones can work as RFID carriers to open Signature RFID by VingCard electronic locks. By offering this service, hotels benefit from: significant improvement in guest service perception; and increased turnover and bottom line results through higher direct sales at higher margin. By securely sending a text message to the guest’s NFC-enabled mobile phone with the encrypted key, together with the hotel information and room number, it allows guests to go straight to their rooms without having to go through the check-in/check-out process. At checkout, guests use their NFC-enabled mobile phones to check out directly through the NFC-enabled TV in the room or the NFC-enabled automatic check-in/check-out kiosk. Guests receive their invoices either through text message or printed out at the check-out kiosk. Guests can also receive updates to their hotel loyalty membership cards via text message.

Touch & Interact, the Research Track winner from Lancaster University, addresses the limited output capabilities of mobile phones, which are an ongoing issue for mobile application developers. For this reason, current mobile phones may still fail to fully address the requirements of map, multimedia and information browsing applications. Touch & Interact is an NFC interaction technique that utilizes the capabilities of mobile phones and the screen size of public displays. Using the Touch & Interact interaction technique, an NFC phone can touch the display at any position in order to perform selections. During the interaction, both the phone display and public display share the display space. The shared display space is especially useful for separation of public and private information by presenting sensitive information on the phone display. In addition to an auxiliary display, the phone provides extra modalities (e.g. joystick and keypad), storage and additional feedback (audio and haptic).

Gold sponsors of the competition are NFC Forum members Nokia, Over-C and SCM Microsystems. Silver sponsors are NFC Forum members Innovision Research & Technology plc, Inside Contactless, Stollman E+V GmbH and WIMA.

About the NFC Forum
The NFC Forum was launched as a non-profit industry association in 2004 by leading mobile communications, semiconductor and consumer electronics companies. The Forum’s mission is to advance the use of Near Field Communication technology by developing specifications, ensuring interoperability among devices and services, and educating the market about NFC technology. The Forum’s 150+ global member companies currently are developing specifications for a modular NFC device architecture, and protocols for interoperable data exchange and device-independent service delivery, device discovery, and device capability. The NFC Forum’s Sponsor members, which hold seats on the Board of Directors, include leading players in key industries around the world. The Sponsor members are: HP, MasterCard International, Microsoft Corp., NEC, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Inc., NXP Semiconductors, Panasonic, Renesas Technology, Samsung, Sony Corporation, and Visa International.

About Nokia
Nokia is the world leader in mobility, driving the transformation and growth of the converging Internet and communications industries. Nokia makes a wide range of mobile devices and provides people with experiences in music, navigation, video, television, imaging, games and business mobility through these devices. Nokia also provides equipment, solutions and services for communications networks.

About Over-C
Over-C is the leading Near Field Communication software company focused on the management of tag events, from tag scan through the back office. Over-C’s hosted solutions help companies get the right data to the right person at the right time.

About SCM Microsystems, Inc.
SCM Microsystems is a leading supplier of solutions that open the Digital World by enabling people to conveniently access digital content and services. The company develops, markets and sells the industry’s broadest range of smart card reader technology for secure PC, network and physical access and digital media readers for transfer of digital content to OEM customers in the government, financial, enterprise, consumer electronics and photographic equipment markets worldwide. Global headquarters are in Ismaning, Germany.

About Innovision Research & Technology plc
Innovision Research & Technology plc, is leading the next generation of NFC/RFID solutions. As the leading fabless developer of short-range data communication semiconductor and system solutions, with particular focus on NFC/RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and ultra low-cost Integrated Circuit (IC) and RF electronic design, IRT is pushing cost performance to enable clients to get maximum utility for minimum cost. The company develops innovative semiconductor technologies, ICs, RF systems (HF/UHF) and complete end product applications for mass volume commercialisation and then licenses customers for its incorporation into their own products. At the heart of the emerging Near Field Communication market, Innovision R&T designs and develops NFC/RFID IC solutions for the global mobile handset and consumer device sectors. Products include Topaz, mandated by the NFC Forum as the NFC number one tag type format, Jewel for mass transit ticketing applications, and io, the world’s smallest standards compatible Near-Field RFID reader. Headquartered in the UK, Innovision R&T was listed in 2001 on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange (ticker symbol: INN).

About Inside Contactless
As the only fabless semiconductor company focused exclusively upon contactless chip platforms, INSIDE Contactless is a market leader in Near Field Communication, contactless payments, and access control. Innovation in contactless technology has led to more than 55 patents granted to INSIDE, including several essential NFC technology patents. INSIDE is the #1 market share provider of contactless bank card technology in the world, with more than 35 million MicroPass intelligent payment platforms delivered from launch in 2005 through 2007. MicroPass, the 2007 Sesames “Best Hardware” award winner, powers cards issued by more than 20 global bank card issuers. Globally, more than 25 key partners, including major card manufacturers and handset providers, have successfully delivered contactless products such as payment & access cards, point of sale terminals, and NFC enabled mobile handsets which are ‘powered by INSIDE’. INSIDE Contactless is headquartered in Aix-en-Provence, France, with offices in Shanghai, Singapore, Poland, San Francisco, and Boston.

About Stollman E+V GmbH
Stollmann based in Hamburg, Germany, is one of the leading developers and suppliers of standard products and licensed products for communications technologies such as NFC, Bluetooth, xDSL, GPRS, and ISDN. Stollmann’s team of 40 specialists develops protocol stacks, reference designs, and modules. Stollmann provides a NFC upper layer stack and JSR-257 API for mobile phones, PDAs and smart phones, a NFC upper layer stack and NFC API for embedded devices and a NFC evaluation kit, featuring an easy-to-use interface, USB reader, and NFC tags, all complying with the most recent NFC Forum standards. The evaluation kit lets you test-drive standardized near field communication with contactless chip cards and RFID tags. Stollmann has developed the first peer-to-peer mode stack compliant to the NFC Forum specification. It allows to interconnect two NFC-enabled devices for active data transfer. Target applications are mobile payment, ticketing, access control, simple configuration.

About WIMA
WIMA is a Conference and Exhibition based in Monaco presenting the European NFC Developers Summit (Grimaldi Forum, 28 – 30 April 2008) and hosting the Touching the Future: NFC Forum Global Competition Finals & Awards Ceremony (April 29, 2008). WIMA is the European NFC industry event bringing together developers, systems integrators, device manufactures and service providers ready to realise the potential of NFC and the multiple business opportunities available with the ever expanding outreach of NFC services into the ecosystem. Presentations and exhibits explore some of the top NFC application areas highlighting what the devices can do today and will do in the future, what you need to know about NFC technology and how to develop NFC applications.