‘Touch orders’ with ‘RFID dongles’

A while ago some interesting projects attached passive RFID tags to ordinary mobile phones to enable participation within RFID-based ticketing, payment or infrastructure.

I wrote about this way of retro-fitting mobile phones with RFID. Simply attaching passive RFID tags to mobile handsets allows new functions to be added without integration into the phone itself. This offers some insight into the ways in which the phone is becoming central to everyday activity; where it acts as a hub for other touch-based functions like payment, ticketing and access.

Now there are some very interesting observations by Flickr user Superlocal (on the Poketo blog) about the integration of NFC readers into standard Korean mobile phones. This is enabled by the mandated standards for data and power connections for mobile phones in Korea, so that any phone has a standard hardware interface.

McRFID dongle

Here McDonalds is offering customers an “RFID Dongle” that plugs into the data and power connections of almost any phone. Once an application is downloaded, the dongle allows selection and payment to be made from an RFID menu at every table. The system is called ‘touch order’.

choosing a burger via RFID

This system allows much richer mobile interaction than a passive RFID tag allows, given that this is a reader, with access to secure phone applications, billing and data services – the full functions of NFC.

There are other manufacturers such as SDID, Sirit and ACG that offer NFC modules that plug in to standard interfaces like SD slots, but these are not yet being used for mass-market applications.

It is interesting to see McDonalds and SK Telecom introducing such a high-technology solution and providing shared hardware infrastructure to customers in order to enable it before NFC phones are mass-market. The application and service is rather mundane (in fact we might even call it an interaction design cliché), but it’s interesting that it has been made; it is out in the world being used. I’m interested to know how this works in practice, over the long-term.

CNET Asia, My digital life and Far East Gizmos write more about the context of the ‘touch order’ system.

More photos of the menus, instructions and screen interface from Superlocal.

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  1. [...] August 5, 2008 · Filed under Uncategorized Cool! McDonalds are adopting NFC for ordering food at your table! No more queuing for ages! They seem to be giving away a dongle for the majority that don’t have NFC phones so it should be compatibale for most people. See more about it here! [...]

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