If there’s one thing I want to see in Korea and Japan, it’s people slapping their mobile phones down and Doing Stuff with them. You know, paying for shopping, getting cans out of vending machines. That kind of thing. A visit to Korean operator SK Telecom’s demo centre yesterday didn’t disappoint.
They were showing some of the applications for RFID technology, and it made for an interesting selection. Starting with…
1. RFID Banking (left). Go up to an ATM, hold your phone against the special sensor, and receive cash and/or a statement without a debit card in sight. Apparently more than one million people are using the service in Korea now, paying a monthly fee for it.
2. CD Scanning. We used to be boggled by the idea of Japanese mobile users taking cameraphone snaps of QR codes to get information on CDs, books or print ads. Now SK Telecom is doing a similar thing with RFID. Hold your phone up against a product, and you’ll receive information or a link – in the case of CDs, to listen to samples of the music. It also works with food, allowing you to scan a carton of milk to find out its history.
3. Taxi Lookups. So, you get into a cab in Seoul, and think the driver looks a bit dodgy. You can scan an ID thingy on the inside of the door, which gives you details about him and the cab – in case it crashes, or is stolen, and so on. I wonder if cabbies are likely to get the arse if they see you doing it…
4. Payment System. This is the more standard ‘hold your phone next to an in-store reader to pay for goods’ idea. It was impressive how slick and quick it was to work – no waving your phone about for three minutes trying to get a reading.
5. Vending Machine. Yep, SK Telecom is doing this too, letting you hold your phone up against the machine to get soft drinks. I love the way it says ‘The mobile phone number of this vending machine is…’ on the front. Maybe if you text it flirtatiously, it’ll give you a free Coke. Or maybe not.