McDonalds Japan Rolls RFID Coupons

McDonalds Japan has announced the deployment of an e-wallet coupon and payment system, using Felica and DoComo iD readers, at 175 locations as of May 20th with the target of all 3,800 retail shops nationwide to be completed by 2009. While the company has been active in the mobile space since 2003, quoting 10 million registered users, this effort was touted as the first of it’s kind during a recent press conference held here in Tokyo. More details after the jump.

DNP's Electric Wave Poster

Dai Nippon Printing (DNP) has announced [in Japanese] the development of an information delivery terminal for mobile phones equipped with FeliCa. This so-called Electric Wave Poster system is composed of their ‘PetitPorta’ reader unit and a dedicated URL management server which is configured to deliver information related to the POP (point of purchasing advertisement) to RFID enabled handsets. The total number of accesses for each Petit-Porta location can be tracked and, if desired, a membership prompt is also possible in order to collect user information for loyalty programs or future marketing campaigns.

A Tale of Two Mobile Technologies

The recent round of international press devoted to ‘the next big thing for mobile’ has an interesting, and recurring, theme. It started with a fair amount of mainstream media attention devoted to the statements made at CTIA during Visa’s keynote address regarding the evolution of mobile payments. Around the same time we notice that Capt. Kirk went boldly where no ex-pat Canadian would dare go (Toronto in March) to attend this presser with Ted Rogers promoting a new fangled mobile web-cam handset, which the company breathlessly hailed as “a landmark in wireless communications”.

We also noticed this special op-ed from Card Technology about how Sony is potentially challenged to get their m-commerce product outside of Japan. The article did some great work, however there’s plenty of room for a counter-point discussion. One thing rings true, both of these technologies were deployed here in Japan years ago and like the camera-phone will begin making their way into markets overseas in due course.

Sony Ships 200 Million FeliCa Chips

Shipments of smart cards and cell phones containing Sony Corp.’s Felica RFID chip have hit 200 million, the company said Thursday. In the last five years the chip has become a de facto standard in Japan and cards containing it are used by millions of people everyday to make railway journeys and e-money purchases in convenience stores. In 2004 the chip started getting integrated in cell phones [WWJ Video] and today, through Felica, owners of those cell phones can make purchases in stores.

Hitachi Unveils World's Smallest RFID

According to AP, Hitachi recently unveiled RFID chips that are just 0.002 inches by 0.002 inches and look like bits of powder. They’re thin enough to be embedded in a piece of paper, company spokesman Masayuki Takeuchi said Thursday. Shown to the public for the first time earlier this month, the new chip is an improvement on its predecessor from Hitachi — the Mu-chip, which at 0.4 millimeters by 0.4 millimeters, looks about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

Japan Plans GPS Watch for Kids

The Japanese government (Soum-sho) is planning to spend 1.2B Japanese Yen (about $10 million usd) to build “a system for watching kids” using mobile phones, GPS, RFID tags, etc. The ministry seems to be looking at systems that monitor kids’ whereabouts using GPS-enabled mobile phones, RFID tags carried by kids, and RFID readers and communication devices installed at school gates and electric polls.

Japan's Still the World's High-Tech Testbed

This past week, WWJ’s own Lawrence Cosh-Ishii, our hard-working director of digital media (and pretty much everything else in our humble shop), appeared on US Web radio program "Into Tomorrow," hosted by Dave Graveline. Dave and his crew pop over to Tokyo each year for the annual CEATEC consumer tech show, and he makes it his business to hook up with a slate of guests who can provide insidery gen on what’s happening in Japan…

Video Round-up: Ultra-cool Mobile Tech at Tokyo's CEATEC 2006

Video Round-up: Ultra-cool Mobile Tech at Tokyo’s CEATEC 2006Last week, Tokyo’s annual CEATEC show (Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies) was once again a showcase for some of the coolest mobile technology on Planet Earth. Today’s video round-up features audio QR, Fujitsu’s ‘UB Wall‘ – an ultra-high-tech, one-to-one customized video advertising display – and FP codes, and – not to be missed – NTT DoCoMo’s 3G mobile-based ‘Drunk Driver’ detector, apparently in high demand by bus companies and trucking firms.

Organizers said that the consumer electronics event drew 550,732 during the public days, 4-7 October, while WWJ ducked in out of the torrential rain during the press & industry day on 3 October, when the crowds weren’t quite as waku (wild).

WWJ thinks the FP codes (essentially, invisible barcodes) and audio QR technology stands a pretty good chance of fast adoption, given the masses of rabid advertising agencies out there trying to capitalize on the growing popularity of (a) camera phones that grab info via QR code and (b) digital broadcasting. An audio QR code is simply broadcast as metadata in a digital audio signal, such that the browser displays text, a clickable URL or other advertising message while you listen to a radio or tv program on a suitably enabled mobile phone. But for sheer outdoor-advertising-meets-mobile marketing genius, the UB Wall can’t be beat!

RFID 2.0 Proposals Announced

HP Japan and BEA Japan have proposed a new architecture for building business RFID applications, dubbed RFID 2.0. According to their definition edge systems that locally and independently use RFID for data input/output at distribution centers, etc. are RFID 1.0 while systems that allow for a company to integrate the data with existing business applications (and share the data with other companies) should be considered as “RFID 2.0.”