Radio frequency identification technology is being touted as the successor to magnetic stripe cards and locks in hospitality. Definitions of terms involved in RFID will help hotel operators understand this emerging field. Among the common ones:

  • Proximity is a legacy technology typically based on a low-frequency carrier. Characterized by limited memory, it is read-only, its data transfer is slow, and it has limited to no security.

  • Contactless RFID is being deployed by the security, transportation, financial services and telecommunications industries. Based on a high frequency of 13.56 megahertz, its main benefits over proximity are memory capacity up to 32Kbits, fast data transfer for read/write applications, and far greater security.

  • Near field communications, or NFC, is a special type of contactless RFID protocol embedded in a chip that is being introduced in mobile phones and other consumer devices. The most advanced method for secure financial transactions, it is backed by Philips (NXP), Sony, Nokia, Samsung, Ericsson, MasterCard Visa (Paypass), and American Express (Expresspay).

Within the next 24 months, users of NFC-enabled cell phones will expect to bypass the front desk and go straight to their assigned room, using the mobile phone for check-in/-out — and as the contactless room key.

For more info, check out these firms and circle numbers: Allegiant (87); Computerized Security Systems (88); GESI-Uniquey (89); Kaba Ilco (90); Miwa Lock Co. (91); Onity (92); SAFLOK (93); Schlage Lock (94); VingCard Elsafe (95).

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