As part of an experiment to help guide Japanese shoppers government officials in Tokyo have dispatched nearly 300 NFC location tags throughout the Ginza shopping district as well as launched an Android app enabling customers to interact with the tags.
As reported by CIO.com, the Ginza initiative is the latest in a line of city-based experiments seeking to further integrate mobile phones with city life. The goal for this latest initiative is to provide alternatives to users with varying mobility needs.
The accompanying Android app is available in Japanese for free on the Google Play Store, and allows users to search and choose from a list of preset destinations in the Ginza district. From there, users can choose from a range of options — wheelchair or elderly for example — tap a nearby NFC tag and the app determines a detailed route, accounting for stairs and other potentially troubling obstacles when necessary.
Calculating routes based on public government records, the NFC tags can accurately determine the starting point of a route even if it is underground. Government officials in Tokyo have placed the tags along streets, near popular retailers and around public transportation hubs like bus stops and train stations.
NFC is a standard feature on virtually all Japanese phones, where the technology is routinely used for train passes and small purchases from vending machines and convenience stores. Ginza is a major tourist attraction in Tokyo, boasting both traditional Japanese stores and high-end foreign retailers.
The Ginza trial uses ucodeNFC tags, which utilize the ucode system— administered by the Tokyo-based Ubiquitous ID Center— for assigning unique digital identities to locations and objects in the real world.
The Ginza district trial began on February 12 and will run through March 31.