NTT Docomo Offers 'Check-in' Technology for Smartphone-based Services

Mar 7, 2014
Tomohisa Takei, Nikkei Electronics
The sound generator used for the Air Stamp
The sound generator used for the Air Stamp
[Click to enlarge image]
East Japan Railway Application uses the Air Stamp for the function that recognizes which car of the train a smartphone user is on and provides information such as the congestion status and air temperature of the car to the user.
East Japan Railway Application uses the Air Stamp for the function that recognizes which car of the train a smartphone user is on and provides information such as the congestion status and air temperature of the car to the user.
[Click to enlarge image]

NTT Docomo Inc will make its "Air Stamp" technology available to companies that provide services for smartphone users. The technology notifies a smartphone user of his/her entry into a certain area (check-in function) by using a smartphone application.

The technology was exhibited at RetailTech Japan 2014, which runs from March 4 to 7, 2014, in Tokyo. Also, the company announced that the Air Stamp has been employed for East Japan Railway Application, an application software for a service that East Japan Railway Co will launch March 10, 2014.

The Air Stamp transmits unique ID from a sound generator installed at a store, etc by using sound waves in a high-frequency range that cannot be heard by humans. NTT Docomo has been using the sound wave-based check-in function for the "Shopuratto" service, which gives points to users who come to a store with their smartphones. This time, the company will make the technology open source so that it can be used for other companies' applications.

As for the advantages of using sound waves, NTT Docomo said that they do not pass through walls and are reflected off them and that only a microphone function is required.

NTT Docomo will provide (1) a sound generator that transmits unique ID with sound waves, (2) API and library used for developing applications software using the Air Stamp and (3) server for authentication. As a result, it becomes possible for service providers to set up the sound generator in a desired place and add the check-in function to their own applications.

The authentication server is used to prevent dishonest acts such as recording the sound. NTT Docomo recommends that authentication be done via a communication line at the time of check-in.

East Japan Railway Application is an application developed for providing information that is useful at the time of using East Japan Railway's trains and stations such as train operation information, locations of running trains, maps of train stations, etc.

Yamanote Line Train Net, which is one of the functions of the application, recognizes the composition of the train and the car that a smartphone user is on and provides information including the congestion status and air temperature of the car to the user. To detect which car the user is on, the sound generator installed in each car is used.

East Japan Railway plans to make three trains support Yamanote Line Train Net by March 2014 and all the trains by March 2015.