RFID-enabled vending machines installed at US airport

Developers find a new way to enjoy a Coke

Thirsty travelers passing through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport can now buy their soft drinks without having to fumble for exact change.

SkyeTek announced Monday that its radio frequency identification (RFID) readers have been installed in more than 50 soft drink vending machines throughout the airport. The readers will let customers purchase products from the machines using RFID-chipped credit cards.

SkyeTek said it developed the system jointly with Isochron an Austin maker of networked technology for the food and beverage industry.

The Atlanta airport's machines are each equipped with a SkyeTek embedded M2 reader, a network blade that slips into a vending machine. The M2 card can support sessions with RFID-enabled debit and credit cards issued from financial services companies like Bank of America and Discover Financial Services.

The new system permits digitally encrypted communications between the card and the M2 reader, noted Rob Balgley, CEO of SkyeTek. He said the RFID technology speeds transactions and is more reliable and secure than magnetically striped credit cards.

"It's [RFID card technology] more reliable than magnetic stripe and it's less expensive," he said. "Any type of magnetic stripe is insecure. With RFID, you've got a digital memory in the card that connects wirelessly using the same security as is used in e-commerce transactions over the Web."

The M2 blades are linked to Isochron's network payment system, which processes the transaction with the appropriate bank. In turn, data generated by the purchase can be used by soft drink bottlers to, for example, personalize transactions by flashing messages on the vending machine's screen, he said.

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