Those funky little RFID chips embedded in almost all new Japanese phones just learned another trick to add to a growing repertoire that already includes e-cash, train and bus tickets and e-credit cards, with the introduction of a handy new technology from Mitsubishi.
On show at the CEATEC event today, Mitsubishi's reader/writer hardware combines with the IC tags in phones to deliver travel information from JR East, the biggest rail network in the Tokyo area, to train passengers.
Keeping track of us all
The difference between the new service and existing internet-based travel news providers is that the information delivered to phones is up-to-date and specific to the very train in which the passenger is riding.
Users holding a suitably equipped phone to the Oyster-card-like RFID terminals located inside train carriages get far more information than they're likely to need. This includes details of where the train stops, arrival times at each station, delays, possible connecting trains and plenty more. Each is hyperlinked to provide even finer details by connecting to a mobile website.
Readers in countries where it's difficult to find a train, never mind one that runs on time, are probably sick with envy at this point, so we won't rub it in by adding that the Mitsubishi system even gives details of which way to turn when leaving the carriage to find an exit leading to a particular street, office or department store.