A consortium of 23 organizations in eight countries, SmartTouch studies NFC and helps sponsor trials.
The group, which includes research institutions, device makers, a couple of telco operators, a bank, and the city of Oulu Finland, among others, has spent millions in grants from the Eureka, Informartion Technology for European Advancement, program for its work.
SmartTouch has had a hand in 40 trials overall in at least four countries. But by far the hub of activity has been the city of Oulu.
Only 200 kilometers from the Arctic Circle, the city, home of the Oulu University of Applied Sciences, sees itself as a nexus for NFC development and a living laboratory for its use. Starting around 2006, the city, along with Finland’s quasi-governmental VTT Technical Research Center, the nonprofit Oulu Innovation and other organizations, have held about 10 trials--mostly during late 2007 and 2008.
The trials range from allowing children as young as 6 to tap NFC readers with their “Robo” contactless cards to record their attendance at school to enabling residents in their 80s to order home-delivered meals from home by tapping their phones on tags embedded in menus.
Other projects included paying bus and parking fares, downloading theater tickets and enabling patients to send results of blood glucose monitoring to doctors or nurses, who in turn send back instructions via the mobile network.
And SmartTouch has roles, mostly small, in other countries, ranging from enabling users to rent washing machines with a tap of their phones in Spain, to mobile payment in France and transit ticketing in Germany.