Sydney’s the Rocks Set to Deploy NFC Technology

Sydney-The-Rocks-NFC-rfid-blogIn the near future, visitors to Sydney’s the Rocks will be able to use their NFC-enabled smartphones to learn history of the popular tourist attraction.

The Rocks is the world’s first heritage precinct to offer visitors an interactive tour via cell phones, claims Andrew Stoner, the deputy premier of New South Wales (NSW). “With just a simple tap of their mobile phone, visitors will be taken on a journey through laneways of the Rocks,” he says, “along cobblestone streets, and up and down sandstone steps, to reveal fascinating stories of families, friends, convicts and colonists.”

NFC technology provider Tapit provided the NFC technology, combining both NFC-enabled passive smart stickers and QR codes in 37 historic locations within the Rocks. The stickers employ Mifare 13.56 MHz NFC chips which comply with the ISO14443 standard.

Tapit’s chief executive Jamie Conyngham says that affixing NFC tags to the sites allows tourists to instantly download information, graphics and videos they want, with just a tap of their phone on the plaques and plinths, thus enhancing the experience. The technology was easy to roll out.

When a visitor taps his/her NFC-enabled smartphone against the sticker, it matches a unique code linked to that particular location, so that the appropriate content will be sent directly to the user’s mobile phone. Besides, those lacking an NFC-enabled smartphone can scan a graphic, printed with a QR code, which then direct them to the appropriate content.

“Because our servers match the appropriate codes and direct it to the mobile phone, it is very simple to change content when necessary,” Conyngham states. “If the NSW Government wants to add a new site within the Rocks, or even run its own promotion, it can all be done automatically by Tapit.”

“Based on current statistics, approximately 25 percent of usage has been via the Tapit NFC technology, with the remaining 75 percent scanning the QR code. This could be due to low market penetration of NFC-enabled phones currently available in Australia. NFC technology does provide a number of opportunities for dissemination of content to visitors in the Rocks. There are plans to enhance the existing content; however, this is scheduled for a time when NFC-enabled phones have higher market penetration.”

Stoner says, with the new technology, the 14 million tourists who visit the Rocks each year will get a richer experience and be encouraged to spend more time in the precinct. This is just the first stage of technology development within the Rocks, with video, audio and bilingual capabilities planned to follow soon. The tag could also be expanded to tell visitors information about nearby shopping and dining places as well as provide other special offers, such as getting access to social networks, making a purchase or booking.