VingCard Outpacing Industry in RFID/NFC Skill

  • ASSA ABLOY Hospitality
  • 11.07.08
A year after the launch of Signature RFID/NFC, VingCard has achieved global recognition for its security system that allows hotel guests with near field communication-enabled cell phones to bypass the check-in/-out process and unlock their room doors via mobile device.

Named The Best NFC Service of the Year 2008 by the NFC Forum, VingCard reports that beta testing of the system at undisclosed international hotel chains is underway and is proving to be very successful. In addition, cell phone manufacturer Nokia will soon deploy its latest NFC phone, the 6212 Classic, to receive the encrypted room key and work as an RFID carrier to operate with Signature RFID/NFC.

A demonstration of the Signature RFID/NFC electronic lock working with the NFC-enabled Nokia 6212 Classic cell phone will be showcased at the International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show, Nov. 9-12, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York in booth No. 3138.

VingCard Elsafe, a company of ASSA ABLOY Hospitality (a world leader of hotel security technology), provides electronic-locking systems and in-room safe solutions to more than 36,000 hotels worldwide. In April, the NFC Forum, a non-profit industry association developed to advance the use of NFC technology, chose VingCard and its Signature RFID/NFC solution as the best from among 20 finalists and more than 50 entries from 21 countries.

“While other hospitality security companies are just beginning to dabble in the NFC technology arena, VingCard is light years ahead in product development, partner collaboration and hotel deployment,” said Pascal Metivier, president of ASSA ABLOY Hospitality EMEA and Latin America . “Field tests of Signature RFID/NFC are demonstrating positive results, and we anticipate announcing our first international brand installation of Signature RFID/NFC during first quarter 2009. This is yet another first in which VingCard has taken the industry lead in developing technology that preserves owners’ assets, provides brand differentiation, and promotes guest satisfaction.”

Near field communication (NFC) is a standards-based, short-range wireless connectivity technology that enables simple and safe two-way interactions between electronic devices. NFC technology allows consumers to perform contactless transactions, access digital content and connect devices with the simplicity of a single touch. NFC technology provides global interoperability of contactless identification and interconnection technologies.

As part of a joint collaboration with NXP (founded by Philips), VODAFONE and THE HUMAN CHAIN, VingCard developed the application for the NFC-enabled phone to receive the encrypted room key and work as an RFID carrier to operate with Signature RFID/NFC electronic locks.  Working with Nokia, for example, THE HUMAN CHAIN, a management consultancy specializing in mobile communications, together with VingCard helped further develop the NFC application for guestroom access control and other NFC services such as loyalty, payment and discovery.

“Nokia has been working with companies such as VISA for several years developing an application for RFID-enabled payment services via mobile devices,” said Tim Jefferson, managing director of THE HUMAN CHAIN. “VingCard came to us several years ago with their vision of using the RFID / NFC platform for guestroom access control. It’s a great way to provide secure, two-way communications between devices for immediate information access and convenience.

“The Nokia NFC-enabled handset contains an RFID module that can function as an RFID tag and as an RFID reader,” Jefferson explained. “The module operates at 13.56 MHz frequency and support ISO/IEC 14.443 – identical to the Signature RFID/NFC platform. The Nokia 6212, which begins shipping this month and will be available worldwide, is Nokia's fourth-generation NFC-enabled handset and will be able to support Signature RFID/NFC immediately.”

To begin, a traveler must register as an NFC member on the participating hotel chain’s Web site as a member of the loyalty scheme. Once complete, the traveler can book a room via the hotels’ reservation system, or via the hotel’s Web site. Upon booking, the system will verify that the user is registered as an NFC member. When confirmed, the system will then begin interfacing with the traveler’s NFC cell phone/Nokia 6212.

Next, the Nokia 6212, for example, will receive a short message system (SMS) text with the hotel room information, an encrypted room key, and the hotel’s GPS coordinates prior to arrival. Upon arrival, the guest will avoid the check-in queue, go directly to the assigned guestroom, and use the cell phone to open the door. For the duration of the stay, the guest’s NFC cell phone becomes the room key. Check out can be accomplished through the NFC-enabled TV in the guestroom or through the reception NFC enabled kiosk. An informational video showcasing how Signature RFID/NFC works is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUHOOUBJr6s

“Our established relationship with companies such as, NXP, THE HUMAN CHAIN and Nokia over the past several years has enabled VingCard to develop solutions that are proven and ready to install upon industry demand,” Metivier said. “As more and more mobile-device applications become adopted, VingCard is far better positioned than our competition to offer additional services to the hospitality industry that operate on the same platform to add even more brand differentiation and guest satisfaction.

“We have now more than two years of solid experience in NFC and are in a position to deliver a true value-added solution,” he added. “The time of simple demonstration is over, and our customers are looking for cooperation agreements with us in order to deploy the strategic opportunities that NFC represents for the hotel industry, namely improving guest satisfaction, increasing profitability and enhancing loyalty applications. Last but not least, the NFC room key is the greenest key that anyone can dream, since no plastic card is issued.”

Metivier said Signature RFID/NFC can greatly enhance the hotel’s loyalty program, as the guest’s mobile device becomes a virtual hotel loyalty card that is permanently updated with points and program information.

“Signature RFID/NFC is a great way to increase, strengthen and solidify the relationship between a hotel chain and its loyal customers,” Metivier said. “We invite everyone attending IH/MRS to stop by the VingCard Booth No. 3138 in New York to see how easy this technology is to use, and unlock its potential for deployment at their hotel.”




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