SITA (Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques) Labs, in collaboration with Orange Business Services, has developed a new check-in concept, ‘tap and board’, that promises to make journeys through airports smoother through the use of a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip. The technology will allow passengers with Smartphones having NFC chips inside them to just ‘tap and board’ or ‘tap and check-in’ at the airports. The IATA (International Air Transport Association) and GSMA (Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association) have identified five other uses for the NFC chip-enabled Smartphone: baggage check-in, security check-point, lounge access, boarding and post-flight uses. The technology uses radio frequencies to enable these Smartphones and other similar devices to communicate with each other, either by tapping or directly when they are within a few centimetres of each other.
The encryption supporting features of the technology which takes advantage of the secure features of the SIM card, makes it useful for holding secure information such as credit card data and passenger information like boarding passes and identities. Some of the advantages of the chip are that it works even when the device is turned off, it is not affected by reading problems due to dirty screens, and does not require the use of any additional application or imagery. DESKO and Kaba, airport equipment providers, supported the SITA research effort by providing RFID readers, security access gates and advanced scanners.