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A techno-revolution is afoot in the way we’ll travel in the near future.
For the slightly nervous amongst us, who repeat ‘passport, tickets, money’ over and over before setting off for the airport, we may soon be changing that to ‘passport, smart phone’, as yet another acronym, NFC (Near Field Communication) starts to take off.
Japanese mobile phones have already been equipped with NFC technology for a number of years. It’s a chip-based technology that relies on dedicated readers, with subscribers to ‘keitai’ phones getting a high-resolution camera, a projector, and radio chip that works as a train/air/entrance ticket/boarding pass, reports the BBC.
Swipe your phone at a barcode tattoo at a bus stop, and the chip will project a timetable on your screen and let you know when the next bus is arriving. It can also check you into your hotel, a great time saver, and open your hotel room door.
So what’s the advantage over our ‘Oyster’ card? Apart from eliminating an extra thing to carry, credit can automatically be recharged on your phone via the internet. The chips also act as e-wallets, with, in Japan, up to 50,000 yen on the phone, allowing customers to buy groceries, pay the taxi driver or get a coke from a vending machine.
On Japanese domestic flights, with the need to compete with the country's super trains, e-wallets have been used for five years now. With an all-in-one ticket and boarding pass in your phone, you can arrive and board within 15 minutes. Isn’t that a dream?! Furthermore, by flashing your keitai at a Tokyo restaurant you can get on-screen menu translations and reviews.
In the near future, moving on from GPS and i-apps to our own version of the keitai, we could well be making cashless journeys: no tickets, no boarding card, no maps, guides, cash for the taxi. Just a change of clothes and a very smart phone indeed!