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  1. 1. MOBILE PHONE APPLICATIONS FOR RADIO FREQUENCY IDENTIFICATION SYSTEMS Research Seminar on Telecommunications Business II, April 2005 Mikko Jalasto Helsinki University of Technology Espoo, Finland Abstract Other significant difference is that information contained in RFID can be changed along time. E.g. The boom of RFID usage -especially in logistics- has during some process the object is getting more taken down the prices of RFID components and information attached into it and can be then followed therefore opened also possibilities for other business better. RFID is also tolerating better dirt and moisture, fields to benefit the advantages of RFID. RFID so it is more reliable. applications in mobile phone business have not yet been deployed in other that small scale, but the discussion RFID is only general term for technologies that can around this topic has been really started. The RFID may identify object using radio waves and unfortunately enable new things within mobile phone business area there are quite many different technologies and and therefore many parties in this multi billion dollar standards used now days. The work for getting one business are looking at this direction. standard is ongoing, but at the moment the technologies are divided. Choosing of right technology might be Key Words some times difficult and requires specialists that know RFID, Mobile application, RFID business, RFID also the area where the application would be used. application 2.2 RFID components 1. Introduction Normally the RFID system contains three main The objective of this paper is to study the potential components, RFID tags, RFID reader and middle wear usage of RFID in mobile phones. The paper will study system using the RFID data. The basic idea of RFID is the technology behind the RFID and the applications quite simple; you attach RFID tag to the object and you that are deployed or discussed currently in the RFID identify the object later with RFID reader. The RFID area. The paper will combine the technological reader is transferring the data to the middle wear system limitations and advantages and combine those with that can use the data for its own purposes. business prospect. The nature of this paper is not to provide full understanding of RFID technology, but The tag is containing an integrated circuit and antenna. rather to introduce reader to the topic and analyze the These small units can be attached to the thin plastic or relatively new area of mobile phone industry. metallic sticker – as in picture- or integrated to e.g. wrist straps or smart card. In the most simply case the tag can be used only once and it does not contain any 2. RFID Technology power source. These kind of passive tags are relatively cheap and are commonly used e.g. in grocery industry1. 2.1 Basic technology The information written to the tag might be anything, but many times the tags contain information concerning RFID is technology that enables contact less the product or asset to which the tag is attached. As an identification of objects (RFID = Radio Frequency example a tag attached to apple juice bottle might Identification). RFID can be compared to the commonly contain the basic product information such as; validity, used barcode that has significant role in identification of ingredients, manufacturer, importer etc. The tag might objects in business and in our daily lives. The difference also contain the link to the producer home page or the between RFID and barcode is that with barcodes you date when the bottle was put to the self of the shop. have to have visual contact to the object and with RFID not. The high frequencies RFID technologies offer Following pictures illustrate the size and layout of basic transmission ranges up to more than 30 meters, passive tags.2 although wave lengths in the gigahertz range are absorbed by water (the human body) and therefore has limitations. The low end frequency RFID does not enable such a long range, but those can be read even trough packages which gives big benefits in some cases. 1 Wall Mart and Tesco internet pages 2 Computerworld homepage
  2. 2. On top of tags and readers the RFID solution might contain separate external antennas that multiply the tag signals. With this solution you can build local networks that can deliver e.g. the location information with great accuracy. Good examples of these kinds of local RFID networks are Singapore harbor and Lego land amusement park. In Singapore there are implemented three dimensional RFID networks which can pin point any container in real time with close to 100% accuracy. In Lego land there is build RFID network that follows There are also tags that can be rewritten and are the children can locate them if they get lost. The containing internal power source that enables longer children are attached with simple RFID tag and the operating range and longer life time. These tags are antennas around the park can collect the childrens called active tags and they might have huge power location from longer distance. 6 supply units and weather and shock proof covers build around them. These kind sophisticated and bigger tags can be attached to e.g. container that can be than 2.3 Used frequencies followed in the harbor or inside the ship3. The different tags also contain different amount of information- The RFID is always using radio waves to communicate which has also impact to the price of the tag. The between tag and reader. How ever the communication is following table shows the approximate prices of not always done on the same frequency. The RFID different RFID tags4: systems are currently using four different frequency zones. These frequencies are varying between few Tag type Extra elements Price kilohertz and several megahertz and the different frequencies are used in different applications. The Basic passive Basic integrated 0,15-0,7 € following table will specify the different frequency tag circuit and antenna zones and define where those are commonly used. Rewritable Rewritable larger 0,5-5€ passive tag with capacity circuit more capacity Operating Advantages Limitations Applications Basic active tag Basic elements and 5€-50€ frequency external power Low- -Widely -Read range -Antitheft and supply Frequency deployed less than 1,5 m immobilizer Advanced active Containing stronger 10€- 300€ 125kHz-134 -Metal systems kHz interferes -Animal and tag power supply and minimal container better tolerance to tracking external effects High- -Widely -Read range Retail product Frequency deployed less than 1,5 m and asset 13.56 MHz -Minimally -Metal causes tracking affected by serious - Access The RFID readers have also huge spectrum of different moisture interference control options. The size and functionality is greatly depending Ultra-High Widely - Heavily -Pallet, on the field of application. The reader can be meant Frequency deployed affected by container and only for reading similar tags from fixed distance or it 868MHz-928 -Read range moisture vehicle MHz significantly -Tags close to tracking must manage simultaneously many different tags at longer than each other different ranges. The following pictures demonstrate LF and HF cause errors different RFID readers5. The first reader is used with PC Microwave Read range -Not widely Vehicle and the second can be integrated e.g. to mobile phone. 2.45 GHz greater than used access control all other -Complex standards implementatio n 2.4 Gaps and problems with RFID The different standards and frequencies that are applied in RFID technology are slowing down the wider spreading of RFID applications. The systems operating in different frequencies can not work together and this can be frustrating for the companies working with RFID 3 and as well for the real end users. Some frequencies – Texas Instruments and Savcor One internet pages especially with UHF- are especially difficult due to the 4 The prices of different tags are collected from several reason that in some counties parts of these frequencies internet sources (see references) and combined in are already reserved to the mobile phones. There are author specified categories 5 6 Crossbow Technology and Socketcom internet pages Texas Instruments case study
  3. 3. also differences between countries in what is the used Also important field of application of RFID is the power in RFID. In Europe the readers can operate with access control and security applications. In most of the 0, 5 watts and in US the power in many times higher. public and private companies the premises are equipped However the standardization is constantly ongoing and with access control systems that track the movements of improvements are hopefully on the way. 7 personnel and allow the access to only allowed areas. Car manufactures have long used RFID technologies in Some materials cause disturbance for RFID readability. immobilizer solutions that enable the vehicle to be Especially metal and liquids are causing problems in started only with right key. The key is containing RFID RFID applications. This area is under heavy study and tag that triggers the vehicle immobilizer off, when many parties are developing RFID standards tolerate needed. better these materials. Newer application of RFID is the location systems In cases when there are several RFID that has to be read where the target of location is human. These human at the same time there is possibility for effect called tracking systems are used in some prisons, fun parks “tag collision”. Tag collision can be managed somehow and lately even in schools.11 Good example of this is the with software applications that enable of reading 20 to Lego Land system, where lost children can be tracked 1000 tags in second. This is however not enough in down immediately. The children are carrying basic many environments that require faster and more reliable RFID tag that can be located from the park, using the methods. network of readers and antennas that has been placed around the park. The human follow-up systems enable one very important benefit for companies working in customer interface. The behavior and preferences of 3. RFID Applications customers can be recorded with huge accuracy when using RFID tracking and feedback systems. Fun parks, skiing centers or conference organizers can collect real 3.1 Widely spread applications time and accurate information about the customers by following the actions of them in their premises. E.g. RFID solutions are probably most common and well skiing center can follow which elevators are most known in different asset and material tracking popular or which is the average age of people is in applications. RFID is widely used in supply chain certain track.12 processes where huge number of packages and pallets are moving trough warehouses, factories, harbors and Lately also many companies have moved to used shops. The RFID enables fast and relatively reliable electronic tickets that use RFID technologies. Examples identification of materials and this is big advantage in of this in Finland can be found quite many. Finnair has industries where material is moving in constant flow been testing automatic check-in system that is based on and the number of individual daily material transactions RFID technology and the public transportation around is counted in tens of thousands. Biggest boost in Helsinki can be paid with RFID card.13 grocery industry was originated by Wall Mart, which announced that by year 2007 it main suppliers has to attach RFID tag to every product that they deliver to Wall Mart shops.8 It is quite likely that RFID will be replacing the barcodes in future supply chains. 3.2 Mobile phone applications Especially the grocery business is potential leader in taking the item identification to next century. The only RFID technology is not yet really deployed in mobile true question is the price of RFID tags. If the tag price phone industry. There are few examples of RFID can not be taken enough down –under 0.05€- we may technology adaptation in mobile phones. Nokia has not see the real brake trough of RFID.9 produced first mobile phone that has RFID reader build in the phone. Nokia 5140 phone has RFID reader The following list presents the possibility trough removable RFID covers. Nokia has Top five fastest growing RFID application segments.10 also published RFID kit that enable user to design simple applications for RFID usage. RFID has many No. 1 Point of Sale potential applications that could be integrated to the No. 2 Rental Item Tracking mobile phones. The applications may sound good, but No. 3 Baggage Handling before those will be used commonly there will be a long No. 4 Real-Time Location Systems journey.14 No. 5 Supply Chain Management 7 11 Rinta-Runsala Shepard, RFID journal 8 12 Wall Mart internet pages Rinta-Runsala & Tallgren 9 13 Shepard S, Forrester YTV home page 10 14 Krebs, Liard (information is from 2001) Nokia home page
  4. 4. Think about the situation where coffee automata service person receives a service request with SMS to his or her personal mobile phone. After fulfilling the task he or she would just read the RFID tag – containing information what has been done and when- from the coffee machine and the data would be transferred directly e.g. to the invoicing data bases. Nokia presents some use cases in their web pages, which has been developed around RFID. These applications are based on the idea that user touches the RFID tag with mobile phone, containing RFID reader, and the phone will connect to needed place to execute needed operation. Nokia promotes these applications as Figure 1 Nokia 5140 with RFID covers15 “Touch and Browse”, “Touch and Record” and “Touch and Call”. These applications do many things from browsing the internet to connecting to closest Maybe most promising RFID application area in mobile restaurant, but there is one common thing in them. phones is related product identification and linking These applications all use some other service to deliver mobile services to these specified products. The value to the customer. The applications use e.g. GSM, customer could example use his or her mobile phone – MMS or internet browsing services.17 equipped with RFID reader- to read the information on DVD movie. After this the mobile would connect to the The access control could be also partly integrated to internet and fetch related material concerning the mobile phone. People would not need to carry different movie. The customer would possible want to see the kind of keys with them if the RFID tags would be trailer of the movie or view the rankings given by other integrated to their mobile phones. This would benefit customers. This is promising area of RFID application, specially persons who are moving in many different but before it can be reality two things are needed. First premises, e.g. security guards and maintenance of all the relatively big amount of mobile phones has to personnel. be equipped with RFID readers and secondly the big amount of products would need to attached with right kind of RFID tags. Without these two things are there is no possibility to reach the critical mass and with out the critical mass there are no major business opportunities. 4. RFID potential in mobile phone business More about these possible limitations is chapter 4. Mobile phone – equipped with RFID reader or tag – can It is clear that RFID has many potential applications be also used for device for paying goods or services. that could be integrated to the mobile phones. The Customer could pay his travel trip, food or product with applications may sound good, but those need more simply reading the RFID tag and getting confirmation analyses before you can see the risks and real potential of purchase trough e.g. SMS. Mobile RFID payment of the RFID applications in mobile phones. application has been launched in Japan by Japanese operator DoCoMo. User can use his or her mobile 4.1 Tools for analyses phone as electronic wallet and pay his or her products and services with it. There are 39 companies -including The potential of the different mobile phone applications McDonalds and Japan railroads- offering their products will be analyzed using SWOT analyses and Ansoff or services trough this application.16 model. The SWOT and Ansoff model should together bring out the most potential opportunities and most of RFID payment and product identification may be the all the risks that may many times be hidden to the most promising areas of RFID applications in personal potential new businesses that rely heavily on new mobile phones, but for business usage there are existing technologies or business prospects that are not proven already beneficial RFID solutions. In all businesses in reality. where the personnel of a company have to travel around the field, trough beforehand known points, it is possible The SWOT analysis is simple tool to help matching the to use the RFID technology as method for reporting and capabilities and potential of prospect business to the operating tool. All service personnel could use their competitive environment that it would operate. own mobile phones to report their service time and Normally SWOT is used in evaluating existing other data directly to the servers by just simply reading companies strategic positioning, but is can be used RFID tag from the repaired item. E.g. elevator, base productively to also map the potential business or new station or coffee machine service personnel would have technology. The following picture presents the SWOT direct reporting tool integrated to their mobile phones. framework and illustrated the different aspects of it. 15 Nokia home page 16 17 Telecom Asia Nokia www pages
  5. 5. “Diversification”. The markets are clearly new, but the product is some where between new and old. My justification for this conclusion is the fact that RFID in STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES mobile phones is new product, but the final deliverable in these applications is usually a service that has been on the markets already for some time. With these services I point to e.g. browsing and mobile advertisement. OPPORTUNITIES THREATS Due to the reason that these issues are totally separate business prospects, I have here divided the business area to two different fields: 1. RFID as new business area. (e.g. developing Figure 2 SWOT framework RFID systems and middle ware fro mobile Ansoff model is developed to help companies or phone usage) potential companies to define the growth strategy. The 2. RFID as enabler for growth of existing service model contains four different growth strategy options business (e.g. more web browsing and mobile that may be chosen based on the product of company purchases) characteristics. (See The following picture shows how these fields are located to the Ansoff model: Figure 4 Different business areas in Ansoff model Figure 3 Ansoff model RFID as new business area is more turning to the I have used the Ansoff model to define the strategy that “diversification” direction and the RFID as enabler of RFID mobile applications would most likely to follow existing businesses is more related to market and then to dig deeper to the potential success of the development strategy. chosen strategy by analyzing the different aspects of the strategy in Ansoff model. These two different business field are analyzed together in the SWOT analyses, but then discussed separately in the conclusions. 4.2 Results of analyses In the following SWOT tables can be found most important issues concerning both, technological and business aspects of RFID usage in mobile phones. These aspects are based on the issues in earlier chapters I have taken the following approach in analyzing the and authors own judgments. As mentioned both RFID mobile phone applications. First I have defined different business areas are analyzed here together. the strategic growth area of RFID mobile phone applications, using the Ansoff model. After this I have STRENGTHS conducted SWOT analysis for the RFID applications in chosen growth strategy path. By combining these two Existing technology approaches it is possible to limit the analyses to slightly Relatively cheap to modify and develop applications more concrete level and concentrate only the most Used widely in other business areas relevant and important SWOT aspects. Enables user friendly interface to launce mobile services We can see from the Ansoff model that RFID mobile phone applications belong to some somewhere between the “Market development or extension” and
  6. 6. WEAKNESSES As stated, RFID has still clearly its technical Separated standardization of technology limitations and the number of mobile phones and Too expensive components (specially readers) applications using RFID is much too low for More RFID phones and services needed in order to reach gaining the critical mass. However if we estimate critical mass (now only on trial level) that these challenges will be solved we might see RFID only enabler, not real new value element for mobile even some killer applications enabled at least partly phones? RFID security still partly unreliable by RFID Still some challenges with basic issues (interference of . material, collision etc.) The biggest potential business area comes from the possibility that RFID would bring the boost to the usage of mobile services. In this aspect RFID can OPPORTUNITIES not be seen as new business idea, but rather like one enabler of mobile service business. In this Could open huge extra business for service providers aspect RFID can deliver truly user friendly RFID has the basic elements to be successful also in interface that can be used for activating huge mobile phone industry variety of different mobile services. RFID could Some big players are showing the direction (Nokia, even bring at the same time ideas for developing DoCoMo, etc.) new kind of services, but still it would not provide Some good existing applications for companies may boost nothing else than complementary technology to up the coming of RFID Open standard that can be used to develop new services link the user to these services. (easy access to markets) After RFID has spread more widely, there is potential also for business related to RFID THEREATS technology. There is naturally need for better and more reliable RFID components and systems, as What is the earnings principle (is it only business for well as middle wear applications, but this is related operators?) to business areas where huge volumes and efficient Standardization can not be done on global level production processes are the core competence. This Technology will not be enough reliable after all (still huge results to the fact that business related to RFID efforts to improve reliability) hard and middle ware will be dominated by huge Other technologies may replace RFID in some potential applications. (WLAN, UWB….) global companies, rather than small or start-up If the component prices can not be reduced are end users entrepreneurs. willing to pay extra for RFID readers. Markets impregnated by technological innovations? Despite of some applications that can be said that are pure RFID products –like positioning systems – it seems that RFID has very limited amount of 3. Conclusion mobile phone applications that would create true business case. These applications would require Does RFID have true potential of being successful environment where RFID reader/tag equipped technology to be adapted to mobile phones? The mobile phones would be in the majority of total time will show but, currently it has still some amount of mobile phones. This seems unlikely in technical challenges that have to be solved. In near future. mobile phone applications I consider that the inadequate standardization is the most important The conclusion of this research paper is that RFID aspect from technology point of view. The other has huge potential in enabling growth of mobile technical limitations are not as important as in services, but other real killer applications we have supply chain applications. to wait for longer time. The break trough of RFID enabled mobile services will require vide co- RFID is totally open and relatively simple operation from mobile phone manufacturers, technology that will not provide any competitive operators and mobile service provides. It is unlikely advantage as pure technology. Any new RFID that mobile phone users are willing to pay extra for invention or RFID mobile applications are RFID readers in their mobile phones, before there currently – and seems that also in future- too easily are real cases where they can us it. and rapidly copied by competitors. There is no This means that manufacturers, operators and competition currently related to RFID mobile service providers has to finance this break trough. I phone business, this is due to the reason that it is consider this to be the biggest obstacle between very much immature area where the current mobile RFID success and failure. applications are only on test level. The only players on the field are huge telecommunication companies whose ultimate target is not to sell physical RFID References products, but to boost the markets of mobile services. .
  7. 7. Krebs D, Liard M, Global Markets and applications for Crossbow technology radio frequency identification. Venture Development Corporation. 2001 Socket communications Inc. Use cases for RFID. Nokia external material http.//,,55739,00.html Wal mart homepage 5140 RFID phone. Nokia external material,,72324,00.html ePage.jsp Tesco homepage Computer world home page Http:// Container location system Texas Instruments: RFID cases DCMP=TIHomeTracking&HQS=Other+OT+home_tirf id Aus RFID Rinta-Runsala E, Tallgren M, RFID-tekniikan hyödyntäminen asiakkuden hallinnassa. VTT 2004 Tutorial overview of inductively coupled RFID Systems. UPM Rafsec 2002-2004 Shepard Steven, RFID Radio Frequency Identification. McGraw-Hill. 2005. YTV information concerning the RFID travel card Telecom Asia RFID usage in Japan. 2005. The Inquirer.2005. Mobile phones turned into point'n'buy devices. Charles Holms. 2004. Forrester research paper: Exposing The Myth Of The 5-Cent RFID Tag e_of_rfid_tags_wont_drop_to_005_in_the_next_eight_ years.html Networking Center: Payments via mobile phones to grow rapidly this year. 2005. CIaNID=17939