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Laks : A futuristic company in contactless gadgets

Not so long, about 10 years ago, if someone had told you that you could process a payment transaction with your watch, you’d probably laugh. But things have changed in an enormous speed and since last few years, this definitely possible and there are people actually doing this now.

This has been possible by a company -Laks, whose vision is beyond most of the people in both card payments and watch industry. Laks is a Vienna based company developing very cool watches that have a dual interface chip slot and the watch has an antenna inside the watch. The antenna plugs into a specific type of SIM sized dual interface chip produced specifically to fit in this environment. There is the possibility of running many applications on the chip. Actually there is the possibility of requesting any kind of chip in this form, which means that sky is the limit for implementing a chip application inside a watch. Laks also has native mifare chip embedded into the watch. Although I’ve never asked, I am sure that they can fit any kind of chip inside a watch.

Watches come with the antenna, while the dual interface chips do not necessarily. If so, personalization process must be processed while the chip is in the watch, which is something hard to do when personalizing huge volumes.

In Turkey, Garanti Bank launched a product based on Laks watches a few years ago. It was a little bit early, however it was still a very innovative product. In Turkey, there were efforts to develop a payment product based on Laks’ watches, which some of them had already passed the proof of concept phase, unfortunately they were never launched.

Maybe, the commercialization did not happen due to the fact that watch is a personal thing (like a mobile phone in the NFC case) and a payment product bundled in a personal stuff might not sound good to people. But I am sure there will be some contactless projects based on watches and Laks will definitely have a big role in this picture. There are more interesting watches other than having a contactless capability in Laks’ web site, worth to visit.

Gemalto joins Open Handset Alliance

Gemalto announced that Gemalto joined the Open Handset Alliance. I find this a very good news for the NFC world.

Android platform was an initiative by the Open Handset Alliance. Almost all of the researches point out that Android will be one of the most popular mobile operating systems of (very near) future. Android runs not only on mobile phones but a range of mobile devices varying from netbooks to internet tablets. I believe Android will penetrate into more devices like running on embedded systems.

So what does Gemalto’s joining to Open Handset Alliance mean in terms of contactless systems? First of all, Gemalto is the first and only company on secure payment and identification technology in the alliance. Gemalto is clearly the biggest company that has the expertise on the application level security for payment/identification chips, which I believe will boost the NFC implementation on Android OS. Gemalto has all the necessary know how and sources for developing a generic NFC API for Android which will encourage handset manufacturers for more handsets supporting NFC. On the application level, this will lead the huge Android developer community to implement many NFC applications – and not only payment.

Since it’s now widely believed that next generation iPhone will have some kind of contactless interface, now almost all major mobile platforms (Symbian- of course, iPhone and now Android) will have native support for NFC.

Apple’s implementation of NFC

My previous post on Apple’s NFC support on iPhone got the most hits among all the content here. Luckily, it turns out that next generation iPhone will have the NFC support. Near Field Communications World.com’s post was linking the Apple Insider’s post, which has all the details of the patent application of Apple on sharing data between NFC enabled devices. Apple’s understanding of NFC is to syncronise devices over a contactless interface. Sounds logical.

In every NFC promo video, you can see people exchanging contacts and some other information by touching their phones to each other. It seems iPhone will be the first commercially available device to actually do this. I can imagine the ads of the next generation iPhone; how people will be touching their shiny iPhones to other iPhones, Mac Books, iPod Touchs and Apple TVs. This is a very good news for the NFC world.Think of people sending each other files between their iPhones. Banks, fast food restaurants, online stores, almost all types of businesses already have their own iPhone applications. I can imagine how the NFC chip will extend their applications into contactless loyalty schemes or secure identification media. My forecast is that payment will come later, possibly after people are convenient with their iPhone’s contactless ability. Of course the TSM context needs to be stabilised in the minds of decision makers of the payments industry. I hope this happens before the iPhone’s “possible” NFC boom.

On the other hand, just like touch screens, I think this move will lead to many handset manufacturers to follow the lead and integrate NFC chips into their products. Eventually this will lead MNOs to create their value added services on NFC hardware. Banks, transport operators, loyalty schemes, etc will have much more creative products. I think, and strongly believe that current NFC hardware and software developers will be securing their future -hopefully not in a long time.

A possible huge step for NFC

A recent post on Near Field Communications Group on Linkedin states that Apple is working on some prototype iPhones which have contactless reader. Here’s the full post:

Had to share this news. A highly reliable source has informed me that Apple has built some prototypes of the next gen iPhone with an RFID reader built in and they have seen it in action. So its not full NFC but its a start for real service discovery and I’m told that the reaction was very positive that we can expect this in the next gen iPhone. If Apple does it, expect every phone manufacturer and their sister to begin pumping out NFC enabled phones, at least for service discovery and sync. This just reinforces what we knew based on the two seperate patents Apple submited that had the iPhone enabled to read RFID tags. I’m told that the touch project video and the BT SIG’s specs were all driving forces to push this forward as well as other factors. Guess I’ll be touching my iPhone to my Mac to link them together to sync iTunes by next year.
Nokia has been the leader of NFC innovations in the handset world, but if this happens to be true Apple may go far ahead. And at the same time it will lead to a boom in NFC applications.

A recent post on Near Field Communications Group on Linkedin states that Apple is working on some prototype iPhones which have contactless reader. Here’s the full post:

Had to share this news. A highly reliable source has informed me that Apple has built some prototypes of the next gen iPhone with an RFID reader built in and they have seen it in action. So its not full NFC but its a start for real service discovery and I’m told that the reaction was very positive that we can expect this in the next gen iPhone. If Apple does it, expect every phone manufacturer and their sister to begin pumping out NFC enabled phones, at least for service discovery and sync. This just reinforces what we knew based on the two seperate patents Apple submited that had the iPhone enabled to read RFID tags. I’m told that the touch project video and the BT SIG’s specs were all driving forces to push this forward as well as other factors. Guess I’ll be touching my iPhone to my Mac to link them together to sync iTunes by next year.

Nokia has been the leader of NFC innovations in the handset world, but if this happens to be true Apple may go far ahead. And at the same time, it will definitely lead to a boom in NFC applications.