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3/11/2008
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Microsoft, Sirit To Add NFC Technology To Windows Mobile

Near-field communications technology lets mobile phones act as electronic wallets, electronic tickets, and access control devices.

Microsoft and RFID vendor Sirit plan to collaborate on adding proximity technologies to the Windows Mobile operating system.

Specifically, Sirit will offer its near field communication (NFC) technology, an extension of the ISO 14443 proximity card standard that combines smartcard and reader into a single device. The companies aim to speed the adoption of NFC and so-called "contactless" technology in Windows Mobile powered smartphones and the development of Windows Mobile powered NFC applications.

Neither vendor specified how they planned to use the new capabilities. NFC is radio based and enables the exchange of data between devices less than a foot apart. These contactless technologies are already at use in public transportation and payment systems. NFC is intended for use largely in mobile phones.

According to figures provided by Sirit, analysts predict that up to one-third of all mobile phones will be NFC-equipped within the next five years, enabling mobiles to act as electronic wallets, electronic tickets, and access control devices.

The Pelorus Group forecast in 2007 that payments from contactless. mobile, and biometrically authenticated systems could account for more than $400 billion in transactions by 2011. That's a 15-fold increase from the $27 billion generated on such systems in 2006, the consultancy said.

Neither vendor offered any timeframe for when these capabilities might first begin creeping into Windows Mobile.

By getting support for NFC within Windows Mobile, Sirit hopes to attract equipment makers that will build related apps into their handsets and smartphones. In that same vein, Microsoft intends to develop APIs and other native support within Windows Mobile for NFC and contactless technology to encourage vendors and applications developers with a consistent platform.

In addition, Microsoft will use Sirit technology and expertise in its development and testing program.

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