Smart card watch carries your carfare
December 18, 1998
by Jana Sanchez-Klein
(IDG) -- In a case of fashion meeting function, Schlumberger Ltd. and Swatch have launched a new watch that packs a smart card payment system for public transit fares.
The two companies collaborated to produce the contactless, electronic-ticketing watch, which is now on the market and being used in Tampere, Finland, said Jonas Andersson, Schlumberger's marketing manager for mass transit.
The watch, called Swatch Access, comes in four designs and is sold at Swatch outlets in Tampere and through the transit authority. Swatch Access sells for the same price Swatch charges for its other watches -- about $55, Andersson said.
"It's a watch that incorporates the same electronic chip that we incorporate into our Easypass card, a contactless smart card," Andersson said.
To use the watch, a passenger pays a given amount of money to the transit authority, which stores that sum on the watch's smart card. Tampere's bus system currently uses Paris-based Schlumberger's Easypass card, which allows travelers to store value on a card and pass near the ticketing terminal as they board a bus. The cost of the ride is then automatically deducted from the value stored on the card.
The Swatch watch is just an extension of that system. "We are using the same point-of-sale equipment, back-office equipment and security system that we use with Easypass," Andersson said.
The Swatch watch is compatible with ISO 14443A, the wireless communication protocol used in 90% of the world's contactless, electronic-ticket applications, according to a statement released by the companies.
Next year, the watches will be equipped with the Schlumberger FastOS smart card operating system, Andersson said. "There is no chip in the market capable of running the FastOS in a contactless mode right now. However, it will happen in 1999," he said.
The watch and smart card duo could be used in other cities once they implement smart card, contactless ticketing systems, Andersson said. Although Tampere is the first such implementation, other cities will install the contactless system next year, Andersson said. He wouldn't specify which cities those would be.
Eventually, the watch could be used as a multipurpose electronic purse, where stored value could be used to pay for newspapers, telephone calls, beverages or other low-value items.
"Already today, we are capable of using this watch elsewhere because you can store more than one application on the watch at the same time," Andersson explained.
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