Toshiba rings up Bluetooth at the checkout

A Bluetooth-based system has been developed to allow shoppers to use their mobile phones to communicate with cash registers.

A Bluetooth-based system has been developed to allow shoppers to use their mobile phones to communicate with cash registers.

The technology has been jointly developed by Toshiba and its subsidiary cash-register maker, Toshiba Tec. To use the system, a user's mobile phone needs to be equipped with the service software and a secure identification program, said Kenichi Sugiyama, a Toshiba spokesman.

For example, if a shopper wants to collect bonus points, they send a stored record of collected points from their mobile phone to the cash register. Upon settlement of the bill, the cash register will add up the points earned and send the updated data back to the customer's phone.

The company plans to begin trails of the system at supermarkets in Japan and to commercialise the system by the end of this year, Sugiyama said. Toshiba also expects the system to be used between customers and vending machines.

Similar systems have already been tested in Japan. One Hitachi Maxell trial offers discounts using electronic coupons at supermarkets; while another, run by NTT DoCoMo and Coca-Cola (Japan), allows users to buy drinks from a vending machine. However, both of these systems require users to download bar codes to their phones that are then scanned.

As one of the companies which developed Bluetooth, Toshiba sees wireless communication technology as a potential tool for such systems. The company has plans to roll out several Bluetooth-embedded products this year in an effort to promote the technology.

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