What is NFC and Why Do I Need It?

4 years ago

NFC makes just about anything smarter.

 Imagine flipping on music when you walk into a room with just a wave, or see a new recipe from a grocery store ad with just a tap. Wouldn’t it be nice to start up your workstation and access your email just by setting your phone on the desk? We can already pay for our coffee by swiping our phones at the register. All this done with NFC technology, and it’s behind the dynamic, personalized experiences and offers served up to us in real-time, activated with just a swipe or a quick tap from a smartphone.

NFC stands for Near Field Communication. In a nutshell, it’s a way for devices to talk to each other when they’re within very close range (approximately an inch and a half). Based on inductive coupling (think electromagnetic power), it’s been around for nearly a decade, spawned from a similar technology known as RFID, which is widely used for tracking and identification of goods.

Backed by big names in computing, NFC is popping up in all kinds of devices lately, from laptops and tablets to smartphones. Already widely accepted in Europe and Japan, NFC in the U.S. has had a slow start. But that’s about to change. Deloitte analysts predict that it will be baked into nearly 300 million devices worldwide by the end of 2013. And Forrester Research predicts that more than one-quarter of U.S. consumers will have an NFC phone by 2016.

The Exciting Possibilities

Most commonly used in smartphones,the technology can either speak to other NFC enabled devices or it can activate inexpensive NFC tags, which can be embedded in virtually any material from advertisements and retail shelf tags to prescription drug labels. Tags are activated when brought in contact with an NFC-enabled device.

While high-profile mobile payment solutions like Google Wallet and Isis Mobile Wallet have garnered the most media attention in recent months, the scenarios for NFC technology go far beyond payment transactions. Imagine touching your phone to a poster advertising a new movie ,instantly viewing its film trailer and offered a discounted ticket. We may even be able to check for drug interactions or usage information by tapping our phones to a prescription bottle.

10 More NFC Possibilities

  • Hotel check-in and room keys: Skip the desk, and stop by a kiosk for quick and efficient check-in with just a swipe. Proceed to your hotel room and wave your phone to unlock the door.
  • Foursquare and doctor appointment check-ins: Simply walk through the door with your smartphone to automatically post your arrival on social media platforms or alert the receptionist of your arrival, including serving up your insurance information automatically.
  • Purchase tickets: With just a quick tap to your PC, purchase concert tickets and even book your airfare.
  • Control your home: Automatically adjust security or temperature settings when you arrive home or tap your phone to the washer to start or delay start laundry.
  • Book, movie and restaurant reviews: Wave your phone across a book or a menu to pull up the latest reviews.
  • Detailed comparison shopping: Tap your phone to a product and search for lower prices elsewhere.
  • Portable medical history: Access your medical history from anywhere.
  • One-touch setup of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices: Bypass the setup steps and just tap your devices together for automatic setup.
  • Content sharing: Place your camera next to your monitor to automatically view a slideshow.
  • Auto-adjust your car seats and other cabin settings: Switch drivers often? With a quick tap or swipe, now your car remembers your favorite settings.

NFC is still making its way to the mainstream, but third parties are beginning to integrate the technology into many products and services. Its success relies largely on big venders promoting how it can be used and consumer awareness. The excitement over NFC is building, and we’ll continue to see more and more NFC-based solutions that will make our lives easier.

Got a bright NFC idea? Let us know in the comments.


Connecting moms to the tech that makes life a little easier

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