NEC Develops Technology to Attract Smartphone Users to Shops

Nov 23, 2012
Motonobu Kawai, Nikkei Electronics
The receiver of the "Sumaho Sensor"
The receiver of the "Sumaho Sensor"
[ If it clicks, the expanded picture will open ]

NEC Corp developed the "Sumaho Sensor," a technology for detecting people who have a smartphone and are coming close to a shop.

The company showed the technology at C&C User Forum & i Expo 2012, which it organized and took place from Nov 8 to 9, 2012, in Tokyo.

The technology is expected to be used for providing information to smartphone users who are near a shop and encouraging them to visit it as well as for notifying the shop of the visit of a regular customer. NEC aims to commercialize the technology in early 2013.

The Sumaho Sensor is a technology that detects wireless LAN frames emitted from a smartphone. A receiver whose maximum detection range is 30m is set up in a shop, etc.

When the receiver detects wireless LAN frames emitted from a smartphone, it colects information that enables to identify the smartphone from the frames, and the owner of the phone is identified in a server. If the owner subscribes to the service, the information about the shop, etc is sent to the smartphone (push notification) via a 3G or LTE connection. As a result, it becomes possible to, for example, invite users to a shop.

Before using the service, users have to give permission to provide the information about their smartphones.

There are other technologies that invite smartphone users to a shop. But they require the users to activate an application. On the other hand, the Sumaho Sensor can detects a smartphone whenever its wireless LAN function is on.

Currently, many smartphone users keep the wireless LAN function off, but NEC said, "Because the number of free wireless LAN spots is increasing, more users will keep the wireless LAN function on in the future."