Report: Apple testing RFID swipe support in iPhone prototypes

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
A site focused on Near Field Communications has reported that Apple has built new iPhone prototypes with hardware support for sensing RFID chips.



RFID (Radio-Frequency IDentification) is a technology that allows a device to sense embedded chips in nearby objects without making direct contact or without using visible light like a barcode reader. Apple has already filed patents related to a mobile "ID App" capable of using an RFID sensor, a way to use RFID to sense and connect to available WiFi networks, and a touchscreen RFID tag reader.



New RFID support in future iPhones could enable a variety of "touchless" technologies, ranging from swipe payments (where users could pay for items at a checkout, vending machine, or toll booth by swiping their phone near a payment pad), to swipe sensing of information kiosks, objects, or even animals.



Very little data needs to be transmitted between the RFID chip and the device to do useful things; a payment would only need to present the user's account number. A kiosk could simply transmit a URL to allow users to swipe their phone to open up a web page about the local area, with transit information and maps or details on items in a museum display.



The cost of RFID chips is now down to just a few cents each in quantity, making it possible to apply them to a wide variety of uses. Shipping companies and retailers already use RFIDs to track packages much like barcodes; libraries use them to track books, farmers use them to identify animals in herds, and the army, theme parks and schools attach RFIDs to people.



RDIF in mobile applications



In Japan, QR Code barcodes have long been a popular way to obtain information about an object using a cellphone with a barcode reader or camera that can read them. Mobile phones and credit cards with RFID swipe features (like Sony's FeliCA) have also been in use for years in Asia and Europe, and are just recently entering the US.



Apple could leverage its micropayment system in iTunes, which already has a hundred million users' accounts with credit cards in 23 countries, to set up a payment system tied into the iPhone and iPod touch. However, simply offering a way to read RFID tags would open up the device to a variety of industrial applications where swipe sensing could be used to track inventory and discover items in the area.



Adding support for an RFID reader is apparently easy and cost effective, and can be built right into the screen according to a recent Apple patent, which stated:



"The efficient incorporation of RFID circuitry within touch sensor panel circuitry is disclosed. The RFID antenna can be placed in the touch sensor panel, such that the touch sensor panel can now additionally function as an RFID transponder. No separate space-consuming RFID antenna is necessary. Loops (single or multiple) forming the loop antenna of the RFID circuit (for either reader or tag applications) can be formed from metal on the same layer as metal traces formed in the borders of a substrate. Forming loops from metal on the same layer as the metal traces are advantageous in that the loops can be formed during the same processing step as the metal traces, without requiring a separate metal layer."



iPhone 3.0 already supports local discovery and networking setup via Bluetooth on all iPhone models, but Bluetooth devices are too expensive to embed in lots of devices that could use cheap RFID chips.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 54
    mystigomystigo Posts: 112member
    Another sensor? These phones are becoming tricorders. If they could just detect M-class planets they would have everything.
  • Reply 2 of 54
    rot'napplerot'napple Posts: 1,839member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mystigo View Post


    Another sensor? These phones are becoming tricorders. If they could just detect M-class planets they would have everything.



    Or "fire off" any one of sensor probes!



    http://www.gammaone.org/index.php/Probes
  • Reply 3 of 54
    any chance the new checkout devices (iPod touches) at Apple retail stores are the field tests for this new technology?
  • Reply 4 of 54
    RFID is a little scary security wise, but I've been hoping this feature would help replace ID's and CC's. Obviously this is also a great feature for businesses for inventory tracking and electronic payments as well. It's be great to use with RFID business cards with the phone as well.



    Obviously this is the arena where Apple wants to compete; with features other smart phones will less commonly have. Very "New World Order" but cool none the less.
  • Reply 5 of 54
    This would be great. We did something similar with our client's iPod Touch.
  • Reply 6 of 54
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mystigo View Post


    Another sensor? These phones are becoming tricorders. If they could just detect M-class planets they would have everything.



    I think we?re way past three functions with the iPhone. Your ?M-class planet? comment made me spit up some soda. Thanks.
  • Reply 7 of 54
    They're trying to control my brain!!!
  • Reply 8 of 54
    aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,572member
    Quote:

    Very little data needs to be transmitted between the RFID chip and the device to do useful things; a payment would only need to present the user's account number.



    Please, please, please... may people actually implementing things not be so simplistic. This is why a lot of nerds really hate RFID, as this is a complete lapse of security. For things like payments, you want some form of challenge/response at a minimum where you cryptographically sign the transaction rather than just giving away your account number...
  • Reply 9 of 54
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post


    Please, please, please... may people actually implementing things not be so simplistic. This is why a lot of nerds really hate RFID, as this is a complete lapse of security. For things like payments, you want some form of challenge/response at a minimum where you cryptographically sign the transaction rather than just giving away your account number...



    Agreed.
  • Reply 10 of 54
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,355member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rtdunham View Post


    any chance the new checkout devices (iPod touches) at Apple retail stores are the field tests for this new technology?



    No, totally different technology. The new checkout devices is just a card swiper connected to the iPod touch running POS software. They have nothing to do with RFID or NFC contactless payment.
  • Reply 11 of 54
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,355member
    Guys, guys.



    Cellphone-based RFID and NFC contactless payment have been used in Japan for years. Just Google "Osaifu-Keitai."



    Transit passes (bus, train, airplane). Loyalty/club cards. Shopping at convenience stores (think 7-11 or grocery stores). Sports and event ticket purchase/entry. Parking meter payment.



    Please don't go stupidly paranoid. America is trying to catch up with Japan. We're about five years behind on this stuff just as our crappy cellular carriers are about five years behind theirs. We're turning into an embarrassment of industrialized nations by falling behind in this sort of stuff.
  • Reply 12 of 54
    tomkarltomkarl Posts: 236member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Agreed.



    Have to agree also! There are already do many RFID chips embedded in hundreds of consumer products that are sitting in everyone's homes.
  • Reply 13 of 54
    samabsamab Posts: 1,953member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mpantone View Post


    Guys, guys.



    Cellphone-based RFID and NFC contactless payment have been used in Japan for years. Just Google "Osaifu-Keitai."



    Transit passes (bus, train, airplane). Loyalty/club cards. Shopping at convenience stores (think 7-11 or grocery stores). Sports and event ticket purchase/entry. Parking meter payment.



    Please don't go stupidly paranoid. America is trying to catch up with Japan. We're about five years behind on this stuff just as our crappy cellular carriers are about five years behind theirs. We're turning into an embarrassment of industrialized nations by falling behind in this sort of stuff.



    And if you google a little further, you will find that nobody actually uses it in Japan. It's one of those useless statistics similar to how Nokia is the world's top smartphone producers --- most people have a N-series phone, not because they want to have a smartphone, they have a N-series phone because their carriers just gave it to them as a high-end feature phone.



    http://whatjapanthinks.com/2007/02/1...netration-low/



    Same thing with mobile phones with tv receivers --- there are no viable business models in Japan and Korea.



    http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news...133_39561.html



    The US is not a single day behind at all --- because all those projects never made financial sense in the first place and should have never deployed, period.
  • Reply 14 of 54
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by samab View Post


    And if you google a little further, you will find that nobody actually uses it in Japan. It's one of those useless statistics similar to how Nokia is the world's top smartphone producers --- most people have a N-series phone, not because they want to have a smartphone, they have a N-series phone because their carriers just gave it to them as a high-end feature phone.



    http://whatjapanthinks.com/2007/02/1...netration-low/



    Same thing with mobile phones with tv receivers --- there are no viable business models in Japan and Korea.



    http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news...133_39561.html



    The US is not a single day behind at all --- because all those projects never made financial sense in the first place and should have never deployed, period.



    ************************************************** **********



    I live in Japan, RFID w/ or wo/ keitai is VERY VERY widely used. Suica, Edy and others for conact-less payment.

    As for mobile TV, not as ubiquitious as providers would have liked but this more due to cost and quality. I see several people daily on my train commute, especially in the evening. More if a big sporting event is on.



    And the last point you are WRONG on is how behind the US. Infrastructure is. Across the board, be it telecomms, roads and bridges, electrical grid, health care, you name it, America beats its chest while the country crumbles
  • Reply 15 of 54
    isaidsoisaidso Posts: 750member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post


    Please, please, please... may people actually implementing things not be so simplistic. This is why a lot of nerds really hate RFID, as this is a complete lapse of security. For things like payments, you want some form of challenge/response at a minimum where you cryptographically sign the transaction rather than just giving away your account number...



    Well a cryptographic signature is what your iPhone and/or config profile would do (like it does for email or any other sensitive transaction on your "computer" (the iPhone).

    Even with absolutely no challenge/response at all you're still talking about a zillion times more security than a credit card.
  • Reply 16 of 54
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mystigo View Post


    Another sensor? These phones are becoming tricorders. If they could just detect M-class planets they would have everything.



    If they could just detect point-of-sale transactions & automatically enter the data into financial apps (versus having to manually punch-in the data or attempt hit-and-miss receipt reading), THEN we would have everything.
  • Reply 17 of 54
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mpantone View Post


    No, totally different technology. The new checkout devices is just a card swiper connected to the iPod touch running POS software. They have nothing to do with RFID or NFC contactless payment.



    Yes and the article sounds like complete BS. The bi-directional assumption sounds a bit far fetched. Each individual iPhone has its own RFID signature? I don't think so.
  • Reply 18 of 54
    I?d personally like to see something like this implemented. Credit Cards, and their magnetic stripe technology are just getting ridiculous now. Here we are with cards that have our names and a 16 (or more) digit number on them that can be swiped for payment or other transaction. Okay, then make it a 64 digit number. I don?t care. The point here is that an iPhone or an iPod Touch is a computer. Use the encryption for the transaction and make sure that the user has to unlock the screen and verify the amount to be paid by pressing an ?Accept Payment? button.



    We have all of these stores that give us these cards to swipe so that they don?t scalp us on everything in order to monitor our buying patterns. I?d rather have my phone handle all the transactions that the cards do and not have to carry around all of those cards. Make it easy, encrypt the hell out of it, and while you?re at it, make sure that all the receipts are emailed rather than print them out.



    I?d also like the ability of giving my friend money when he needs it just by tapping our two phones together. I tell the phone that I want to give him $40 for gas because he?s driving us all as the DD, and he shouldn?t have to pay to fill his gas guzzler. There ought to be a way to do that with my phone.



    If RFID is the technology that allows that to happen, so be it. If it?s Bluetooth, so be it. I don?t really care what makes it happen. I just want to see the death of credit cards/debit cards/shopping cards. It?s time to accept that our phones are computers and expect more from them.
  • Reply 19 of 54
    sennensennen Posts: 1,465member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bar_none View Post


    ************************************************** **********



    I live in Japan, RFID w/ or wo/ keitai is VERY VERY widely used. Suica, Edy and others for conact-less payment.



    Hopefully the presence of this chip in the next gen iPhone gives this technology the kick-start it needs outside of Japan.
  • Reply 20 of 54
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post


    Please, please, please... may people actually implementing things not be so simplistic. This is why a lot of nerds really hate RFID, as this is a complete lapse of security. For things like payments, you want some form of challenge/response at a minimum where you cryptographically sign the transaction rather than just giving away your account number...



    The only nerds who really hate RFID are the type of nerds who don't actually know anything -- these are the dungeons and dragons playing, HAM radio operating buffoons that make the rest of us look bad.



    RFID has private key challenge-response security already. It is vastly more secure than your magstripe credit card. It is also standardized by ISO -- kind of a big deal.



    http://www.nfc-forum.org/
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