RFID could be in all cell phones by 2010

All cell phones will come packed with an RFID chip by next summer — giving your phone the possibility of also becoming the keys to your car or house.
Written by Natasha Lomas, Contributor
All cell phones will come packed with an RFID chip by next summer — giving your phone the possibility of also becoming the keys to your car or house.

That was the prediction of Ericsson's vice-president of systems architecture, Håkan Djuphammar, speaking at the company's Business Innovation Forum in Stockholm on Tuesday.

He told delegates: "A year from now, basically every new phone sold will have [near field communication]. It's a two-way, bio-directional RFID communication link that makes this device work as a tag or reader."

Djuphammar said devices with RFID chips will have a secure environment on the SIM card, where "trusted identities" or "secure elements" can be downloaded. This will enable phones to take on other roles, such as the keys for your car or house, or a credit card or concert ticket. He said Ericsson is working with a utilities company that has 700 separate unmanned facilities and around 15,000 keys — a logistical nightmare it wants to eliminate via the use of RFID-enabled mobiles.

"They don't know really where those keys are, so they want to replace all the locks with RFID locks, put RFID-capable phones in the hands of all their personnel, and then they can control the access to these sites."

Using RFID in this way would enable a mobile to be assigned to open a door for a certain period of time only, meaning the company could better manage access to its facilities, while also replacing the hassle of dealing with thousands of physical keys.

"All sorts of things will be enabled by [RFID] — a small piece of technology, but with an ecosystem around it that opens up tremendous opportunities for innovation," Djuphammar added.

Mobile phones could also become instruments of fraud detection. Djuphammar said credit card companies could make use of mobile user location data and IP mapping to ascertain whether a transaction is taking place in the vicinity of the official card holder, thereby judging whether the transaction is likely to be genuine or not.

"In some countries, there's a lot of credit card fraud, so it is in the interest of the issuer to be able to match the position of the phone that belongs to the person who has a card. If the phone is close to where the card is used, the fraud risk is low. But if the phone suddenly moves away from where the card is used, the issuer can be alerted to check that particular transaction — it's most likely fraud, because now the phone and the card are separated," he explained.

Another example of leveraging location data is to create real-time road traffic maps generated by analysing the speed of the mobile phone base station hand-off to ascertain how fast cars are travelling. This data could then be sold to GPS device companies, enabling them to provide dynamic travel information to motorists.

Djuphammar said selling access to mobile user information in this way would open up new revenue streams in a "win-win" scenario for all parties involved — the end user, the operator and the broker who manages the sharing of that user data.

"That is a typical win-win, where the operators share their assets/knowledge through a broker and the GPS company can sell a service to the end user. The end user wins, the GPS service provider wins, the broker provider wins and the operator wins," he added.

This article was originally posted on silicon.com.

Editorial standards