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NFC vehicle identification joint winner of Innovision competition.

Innovision : 28 January, 2008  (Company News)
Healthy lifestyle application and vehicle tagging and identification system joint winners of Innovision's search for innovative uses for Topaz Near Field Communication tag.
Innovision Research & Technology, developer of the Near Field Communication (NFC) standard number one tag type, Topaz, has announced the winners of its NFC Innovation Awards, the first UK-based competition to find the most innovative applications of NFC tags for the everyday mobile handset user.

The competition required UK-based academic teams of up to four participants to produce an abstract proposing a novel NFC application using the firm's Topaz tag and an NFC-enabled mobile handset. The three finalists, all from UK universities, explored the use of tags for a range of innovative and pragmatic purposes.

There were two joint winners. One was 'Health Buddy' from the Lancaster University team of Paul Coulton, Omer Rashid and William Bird. This uses NFC to encourage outdoor physical activity or 'green exercise', as a way of combating the increasingly sedentary lifestyle of the UK population.

Health Buddy tracks the activity and progress of a user on a set exercise course, triggered each time the user scans an NFC tag at specific locations with an NFC-enabled phone. The location information provided by the NFC tags is linked to pre-calculated calorie-burning, timing and effort data for various physical activities, which could include walking, running and cycling. As well as providing an instant motivator during exercise, Health Buddy provides a historical view of activity, including distances covered and energy consumed.

The other joint winner was a vehicle identification application from Simon Moorcroft and Ben Abnett of North East Wales Institute of Higher Education (NEWI). This enables traffic officers to use an NFC handset to scan a Topaz tag affixed to the inside of a car windscreen, either as a complement to or replacement of the current tax disc. When scanned, the tag provides a unique reference which the phone uses to retrieve information from a central database. This would enable officers to confirm the vehicle's tax, insurance and MoT, for example, in a matter of seconds rather than the 20 minutes or so it takes today.

In third place was a mobile NFC and healthcare application from Abhishek Singh and Siddarth Siddarth at the University of Dundee. This uses an NFC-enabled phone as a way of automating the process of collecting prescriptions from a pharmacy and reminding patients when it is time to take their drugs.

"NFC-enabled mobile applications are evolving rapidly and now is the time to investigate how touch-enabled communication can be of interest to ordinary users," explains Innovision Research & Technology CEO, David Wollen. "What is key to opening up such applications is the availability of NFC functionality in common mobile handsets, with inexpensive non-proprietary tags easily available, as opposed to the proprietary implementations that were possible previously.
"The aim of this competition is to focus on simple pragmatic ideas that everyday users can relate to. We are also sponsoring other competitions in conjunction with the NFC Forum, for example, which are aimed more at commercial operations where implications for deployment costs and infrastructure changes can be higher."

Other competition entries featured tags used to help students locate services on campus, and for 'low involvement' communication similar to a wave across a crowded room or a 'poke' on a social networking site. Several other academic institutions are working on projects over the longer term, inspired by the competition.

Innovision CEO, David Wollen, adds: "Interestingly, since our involvement in the recently announced O2 consumer NFC trial, we have received a number of great ideas for Topaz use from the triallists who have been requesting more tags than were originally supplied by us as part of the trial."
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