Nagasaki University develops app that allows remote control of public devices

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Nagasaki University develops app that allows remote control of public devices

NAGASAKI - An app that allows remote control of public devices using smartphones has been developed by a Nagasaki University research group. It is intended to cater to people who don't want to use touch screens handled by unspecified numbers of individuals out of coronaviruses infection concerns.

When a user brings their phone close to a public device, the operation screen displays on their phone. The research group plans to introduce automatic certificate issuing machines on the Nagasaki University campus.

The app is called Chameleon, a reference to the reptile's ability to change its body color to match the surrounding environment, because of its adaptability to a variety of devices from different manufacturers.

Chameleon's strength is that it does not require the download of a dedicated app for each device, as it allows for touchless operation of vending machines and other devices.

In May 2020, a Nagasaki University vice president and professor of information engineering, Toru Kobayashi was asked by a local advertising agency owner if an ATM could be used without touching its screen. This led to the development of the app for around a year and half.

When demonstrating Chameleon to the press on December 16, Kobayashi put a phone close to a smart lock that unlocks doors with a PIN. A PIN screen appeared on his phone, which he entered a code to unlock the door. To get the phone to communicate with the device it will use, near-field wireless communication and other means are used.

In preparation for a time where we coexist with the coronaviruses, the university will replace seven automatic certificate issuing machines on campus with Chameleon-compatible printers by the end of the 2021 academic year. In the future, Chameleon is expected to see use in nursing homes and medical facilities.

More public devices will need to be equipped with communications functions to become widely available, according to Chameleon. Security is a challenge when entering PIN for ATMs and door locks. The team hopes to spread the app in cooperation with other universities and companies for these reasons.

If Chameleon sees a wide uptake, it will save manufacturers from adding touch screens and other operating functions to public devices, and will likely lead to reduced costs. It may open up new business possibilities, according to Kobayashi.