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Photos: Smart posters and the 'seeing eye phone'

A vision of an NFC-enabled future...
By Natasha Lomas, Contributor on
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1 of 4 Natasha Lomas/ZDNET

A vision of an NFC-enabled future...

Near field communications (NFC) technology company Innovision, has been showing off its vision of a future where low-cost stick-on NFC tags can turn any object into a 'smart object' - allowing mobile users to 'physically browse' their environment by holding the phone against tagged items.

Innovision is one of the companies involved in O2's six-month Oyster mobile wallet trial in London, which kicked off back in November.

Pictured above is a prototype of the 'Seeing eye phone' - so called as it is designed to help visually impaired people who are unable to read product information in shops.

The NFC tag on the shelf contains product-specific data which the NFC-enabled phone can read once it is held up to the tag. The phone then receives the product info as text, which is then translated to synthesised speech by the phone. The prototype was developed by engineers from VTT at the Technical Research Centre of Finland as part of a SmartTouch EU-project.

Photo credit: Innovision

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2 of 4 Natasha Lomas/ZDNET

Here is an example of how NFC tags could be used for 'smart posters'. Innovision said bus stops could have NFC tags to make it easier for travellers to retrieve timetable information - after touching the tag with their phone the user can receive details by text of when to expect the next bus.

Discount vouchers could also be displayed as tags on posters which would then be downloaded to the NFC phone.

Photo credit: Natasha Lomas

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3 of 4 Natasha Lomas/ZDNET

Another potential use for tags is to enable mobile users to jump to a web page without the hassle of having to key in a lengthy URL. Here the NFC phone has been held up to the tag and retrieved the URL bookmark data. The web page then loads automatically.

Photo credit: Natasha Lomas

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4 of 4 Natasha Lomas/ZDNET

Tags can also be used to effortlessly transfer photos from phones to smart digital picture frames.

Pictured is a stick-on NFC tag applied to the back of the picture frame (top right). The user takes a photo on their phone and holds it up to the tag to transfer the image to the frame. This is a far more straightforward method of data transfer than removable media, according to Innovision, which it said gives NFC mass market appeal.

Innovision said tags could also be used to help people suffering from forgetfulness to remember loved-one's phone numbers. An NFC tag could be programmed with a person's phone number and stuck to a picture of them. A phone call to that individual could then be initiated by tapping the photo frame containing their picture.

Researchers are also looking at the idea of 'smart doors' which could help disabled people. This system would work by having a reader in the door and a tag in a person's shoe. When the person gets close to the door it would either open or stayed locked depending on the signal.

The company added that NFC embedded in mobiles has the ability to create a world where there are thousands of NFC readers in people's pockets. Once 50 to 60 per cent of handsets have NFC the possibilities for smart tagging are huge, it added.

Photo credit: Natasha Lomas

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