Have you ever driven on a toll road thinking your transponder will automatically pay the tolls only to realize the transponder is in a car other than the one you're driving?

How many transponders or other electronic devices to pay tolls do you need? Would it be beneficial to have that capability from something more versatile and portable?

'GeoToll' --an innovation from OmniAir Consortium, of Reston, VA-- may change that soon.

Under the brandname 'GeoToll', OmniAir says a new product is about to be launched that promises to turn the newest generation mobile phones ("cell phones") into a multiprotocol toll transponder. OmniAir founder and president Tim McGuckin is leaving the interoperability standards cooperative to run GeoToll as its first chief executive officer. GeoToll will allow a 4G mobile phone to act as a transponder. And it will be multiprotocol, so it will be usable on any toll system in North America - to the extent they can handle patent issues with licensing or open standards.

This means it is likely to be tried first in Atlanta, GA; Denver, CO; Washington state, Utah, and in British Columbia at the Port Mann Bridge or the Ambassador Bridge - the major 6C deployers.

Tim McGuckin says: "GeoToll will work with protocols that it has the license to build to." National interoperability is likely to involve open standards and proprietary standards:

"If a toll operator wanted it and the supplier licensed it, then Geotoll can build it." California's Title 21 and ATA could also be adopted. But, some states like Texas, Florida, Oklahoma and N. Carolina could be problematic because their protocols are still proprietary.

"We sense there's a new acronym in the making for the generic mobile-phone-as-transponder, the MPAT pronounced 'emPat.' (Of course it might need the abbreviated phone-as-transponder, 'The PAT' to gain rapid acceptance!" Tollroadsnews says.

Unlike a transponder which has a specific place on the windshield the GeoToll device will ideally be readable in a pocket or handbag or parked for the trip on a vehicle shelf or compartment as mobile phones are. A beauty of having the unit built around a mobile phone is that has a power supply much larger than transponders.

It will sense signal power needed and be able to amplify signals to read through clothing and bags, and in remote parts of the vehicle, wherever a motorists might have their mobile phone.

All this remains to be tested however and proven with a large number of real drivers in real traffic. To start with the GeoToll device will most likely be tested with instructions to drivers to "Place the Cell Phone on the Dash."

The device will make use of the new generation mobile devices' near-field communications (Bluetooth) and their ability to tap a variety of location technologies - GPS, and triangulation and distance-to-tower measurements of cell phones that give them stronger positioning than GPS alone.

Constant location awareness will enable the device to refer to a digital map of toll points and conserve battery life by only going into active mode when approaching a toll point and shutting down DSRC when exiting the vicinity of the toll point.

The basic software app is written. But like other mobile apps and operating systems they expect regular updates which can be sent to users wirelessly.

As CEO of GeoToll,Inc., McGuckin says "We will be independently certified (www.omniair.org) early summer (for 6C conformance and basic performance requirements as established by the toll community) and will then pilot the solution late summer 2013 with toll operators. We plan 2-3 pilots over the next 4-12 months. Commercial availability is scheduled for Summer, 2014."

"As far as market share expectations, I can only say we’re realistic. GeoToll doesn’t intend to remove toll tags completely from the mix, but rather, to complement the driver’s choices by giving them our option. Toll authorities have told us they see the day when they would question their own need to maintain tag inventories if their users were bringing in their GeoToll-enabled smartphones. Adoption rates relate to the number of toll transaction too, so a very nominal transaction fee is one of the revenue models we’re studying," McGuckin noted.

Eager to see it work? Stay tuned!