A mobile kiosk designed for bookworms

Singapore company develops RFID-enabled machines to dispense and accept library books outside of library outlets.

SINGAPORE--Commuters in the near future can not only buy a can of drink from a vending machine at a subway station, they may also be able to borrow a book to read.

Singapore-based RFID applications developer Wavex Technologies, has developed books-dispensing kiosks and portable book drop-bins that are enabled with RFID (radio frequency identification) technology.

Over 10 million items, including books and DVDs, under the purview of Singapore's National Library Board (NLB) have all been tagged with RFID chips that hold data such as call numbers and book titles.

Nick Lee, Wavex's sales and business director, told ZDNet Asia that the mobile library concept will provide additional avenues for book lovers to conveniently obtain reading material--placed in locations such as in Singapore's MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) stations.

Part of Wavex's Library RFID Automation (Libra) system, the initiative could also be extended and deployed to help "bring the library" to segments of the population that are not able to easily access a library outlet, such as people in prison, Lee added.

ZDNet Asia understands that the NLB is one potential user of such machines. A spokesperson for NLB noted that the book dispenser and drop-off bins are in the "proof-of-concept" stage, but said the Board was unable to provide further details.

The library had appointed Wavex Technologies in October 2004 to beef up its RFID-based borrowing infrastructure.