ZigBee SIMs with built-in antennas to add payments, ticketing, P2P and coupons to standard mobile phones

The ZigBee Alliance has announced it has now completed development of ZigBee Telecom Services, a new standard enabling operators to offer a range of mobile proximity services to consumers using standard handsets and SIMs containing a built-in ZigBee antenna.

ZigBee is a specification for a suite of high level communication protocols using small, low-power digital radios based on the IEEE 802.15.4-2003 standard for wireless personal area networks (WPANs). It is designed to be simpler and less expensive than technologies such as Bluetooth and is aimed at applications that can tolerate a low data rate and where secure networking and low power consumption is an advantage.

“With ZigBee Telecom Services, consumers can use their mobile phones to pay for products and services, create their own gaming and communication networks, receive product promotional information along with discounts or coupons from retailers, and determine their location and obtain directions or information on public spaces in indoor malls and environments without the need for GPS,” says the ZigBee Alliance. “In the business environment, employees can manage their authentication and access to office services and controlled areas.”

The alliance has published a white paper that provides details of the technology used and potential use cases. According to the white paper:

By using a standard sized SIM card with an integrated ZigBee radio, mobile commerce scenarios can rely upon the flexibility of ZigBee technology and allow an already seated bus passenger to buy a ticket for her ride. Moreover, using the security features found in a SIM card, it becomes possible to authenticate devices such as PCs and enable access to private networks, folders or settings, thereby avoiding the pitfalls of relying solely on passwords to grant access to confidential resources.

“No single wireless technology standard can bring as many low data rate intensive value added solutions to the mobile user as ZigBee Telecom Services,” says Bob Heile, chairman of the ZigBee Alliance. “ZigBee Telecom Services offers a new way for mobile network operators to provide numerous opportunities to expand current services and generate new revenues with one technology. It also presents a new low cost path to reduce strain on networks and help consumers maximize their mobile experience.”

ZigBee Telecom Services defines a standard methodology for delivering a variety of services, the alliance explains, including:

  • Information delivery — subscription-based information delivered by network operators including weather, public safety, traffic status, municipal notices, small file downloads, RSS feeds for news and stock markets.
  • Location based services — identifying a mobile device’s location within building complexes and malls, crowd tracking, and delivering location information, discounts, product information, listing of stores and services in area based on user interest.
  • Secure mobile payment — secure payment for goods and services at locations such as stores, parking lots, movie theatres and toll stations by simply approaching a check-out point and entering a PIN on the phone, with network operators providing authentication for the payment.
  • Mobile gaming — hundreds of players can connect their mobile devices in their vicinity with authentication by their network operator to play multi-player games.
  • Voice — push-to-talk communication between ZigBee equipped devices within a 20+ meter range.
  • Peer-to-peer data sharing — Small files such as ring tones, images, address book contacts and other information provided by network operators can be shared between two ZigBee-enabled mobile devices
  • Mobile device office management and control — provides employers with a simple, convenient and effective means to manage physical access control to facilities, office data systems and other services by their employees.

ZigBee enabled SIM cards have already been developed for both the European and Korean markets, says the Alliance.

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