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- While other UK NFC Competition finalists help automate prescription collection and taking; and kerbside vehicle tracking

25 January, 2008 – UK – 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.

‘Health Buddy’

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.

Vehicle identification

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.

Healthcare application

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.”

– Ends –

About Innovision Research & Technology plc

Innovision Research & technology plc, is leading the next generation of NFC/RFID solutions. As the leading fabless developer of Short-Range Data Communication semiconductor and system solutions, with particular focus on NFC/RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and ultra low-cost Integrated Circuit (IC) and RF electronic design, IRT is pushing cost performance to enable clients to get maximum utility for minimum cost.

The company develops innovative semiconductor technologies, ICs, RF systems (HF/UHF) and complete end product applications for mass volume commercialisation and then licenses customers for its incorporation into their own products.

At the heart of the emerging Near Field Communication (NFC) market, Innovision R&T designs and develops NFC/RFID IC solutions for the global mobile handset and consumer device sectors.

Products include TopazÒ, mandated by the NFC Forum as the NFC number one tag type format, Jewel for mass transit ticketing applications, and io, the world's smallest standards compatible Near-Field RFID reader.

Headquartered in the UK, Innovision R&T was listed in 2001 on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange (ticker symbol: INN).

Notes for editors

Innovision’s UK NFC Innovation Awards

The competition timing coincided with the start of the new academic year. Judgement criteria included: the project’s benefit to society, the beneficial effect on the lives of individuals, originality, potential for creating an effective working environment and, to a lesser extent, its commercial potential. Competition entrants each received a free competition kit, comprising a set of 10 Topaz NFC tags and a Topaz data sheet. Tags are available in four form factors suitable for a variety of uses:

30mm round adhesive labels
38mm x 38mm square adhesive labels
38mm x 38mm square cards
ID1 Credit card sized cards
Entrants also used an NFC-enabled mobile phone handset with the software development kit, available to purchase from Glue4, a software and solutions company who supported the competition.

Topaz NFC tag

Topaz has a 96-byte memory and as the smallest and lowest cost NFC tag is one of only three proprietary tag types mandated by the NFC Forum, the global standards body for NFC.

Examples of applications already developed using the Topaz tag include a variety of smart posters used for interactive timetables for transport, information and even product download, whilst other use cases such as the Seeing Eye Phone from VTT, and Hotel Nova by University of Nice, have used Topaz tags to provide support for the disabled and improve the travel experience of hotel visitors.

Further information on these projects is available online via What We Do on the Innovision website

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