IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - March 2015 - 79

the pilgrim to find his camp location, as is done currently.
Both pilgrims and volunteers found the use of NFC
technology useful in guiding or assisting lost pilgrims to
their destinations.

and logistics. Additionally, this technology can assist officials in managing the ever increasing number of visitors,
providing improved services, saving lives, and making this
event memorable for the visitors.

E-Purse

Author Information

Programmed mobile devices with an e-purse application were provided to several shop salespersons in
Makkah city. At the time of purchase, the salesperson
debits the owed amount from the customer's preloaded credit by tapping his mobile device against the
customer's mobile phone. The salespersons were very
impressed with the ease of transferring credit instantly
to their own account on their NFC-enabled mobile
phones. On the other hand, customers appreciated
having an alternative to carrying cash, which could be
otherwise stolen or lost.

The author is with the Electrical Engineering Department, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals,
KFUPM 1885, Dhahran, 31261, Saudi Arabia. Email:
mohandes@kfupm.edu.sa.

Tremendously Improved Pilgrim Services
Made Possible by NFC Technology
Mobile devices have pervaded every strata of modern
society, becoming a popular medium for a wide variety
of applications other than simply sending and receiving
calls. In recent years, the use of NFC-enabled mobile
devices in applications such as access control, e-ticketing,
e-purse, and medical services has grown substantially.
Greatly improved pilgrim services are made possible by
the utilization of NFC technology. Field studies carried out
during past pilgrimage seasons demonstrated the increasing value of the technology in several ways. The time
needed to verify participants' identification is reduced
significantly, eliminating the long queues normally found
at identification centers. Fraud associated with prepaid
services provided is reduced, while the efficiency of delivering these services is improved drastically. The language
barriers invariably present between patients and medical
professionals is no longer an obstacle, as each patient
carries his medical record on his mobile. While guidance regarding how to perform certain rituals and special
prayers at each Holy site is usually provided by the guide
(Mutawif) and his staff at specified times, NFC hotspots
allow pilgrims to download video clips and audio files
guiding them whenever required. Assisting lost pilgrims in
finding their camps is simpler than ever before with this
technology, as the respective addresses for each pilgrim
are stored in mobile phones. With the e-purse application, visitors and pilgrims are alleviated of the need to
carry cash around. The use of NFC technology will have a
tremendous impact on the event as it allows visitors focus
more on rituals rather than being distracted by formalities

MARCH 2015

∕

Acknowledgment
The author would like to thank A. Abul Hussain, Kaviarasu Balakrishnan, Pervez Khan, U. Johar, and M.
Riazuddin for help with programming and proof of concept testing. This research was supported by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology Grant No. 32-37
and by King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

References
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