Friday, February 10, 2006
In Sweden and the British Isles, drivers are sending text messages to the parking meter to pay for their parking, instead of stuffing it with coins. Think of the savings of time and trouble of not having to race the meter maid out to your car, to plunk in more change, you could simply send a message from across town! The Japanese are probably the most advanced at this technology, right now. They are using phones with embedded debit card chips that allow them to shop at restaurants and grocery stores and pay with their phones. The service is available in around 20,000 stores.
US companies often look to DoCoMo Company in Japan for inspiration and innovation, and they are watching the Japanese begin to use the phone as a replacement for train tickets. All of our wireless providers and phone manufacturers are currently involved in projects bringing this technology to our shores. Last year in Dallas, Texas, Motorola and Mastercard had a trial run of a few hundred consumers using the wave and pay system at stores and gas stations. The technology is called near field communications and works when the device is about 8 inches from the sensor, similar to the check out scanner in supermarkets.
Wireless companies are convinced the wireless wallet is worth developing because consumers in the US spent over 220 million dollars on Ringtones in 2004. J. P. Morgan Chase is testing the similar idea of cards that can be swiped to pay for things. They are involved with McDonalds and the 7-Eleven convenience store chain at implementing this in over 5000 stores. The idea is to then embed the é─˙contactless cardsé─¨ into phones. Some are still not convinced that this is a tenable idea, but Major League Baseball is intrigued by the technology, because they see it as an efficient way to get large numbers of fans into the baseball parks in a short amount of time. I can just imagine a promotion where your phone is singing the tune: é─˙Take me out to the ball gameé─Âé─¨
As ubiquitous computing emerges, I think we will see our phones become TVé─˘s, music players, organizers, video arcades, Internet surfing devices, and more. And yes, it looks like they are well on their way to becoming wallets. The next time someone asks you for spare change, you can say, sorry, I left my phone at home!