NFC (Near Field Communication) is one of the oft-mentioned seldom-seen mobile innovations that is supposed to change the way we used our phones. It’s been around for a really long time, and one of the Pioneers of NFC Technology is Nokia (They set up the NFC Forum and the first phone with NFC was the Nokia 6131). The other two companies that were involved with the initial set-up of the NFC Forum were Sony and Philips.
Most of the things that we’ve been hearing about NFC lately has been about using it for Mobile Payments, and this is a really old use case (the Nokia 6131 was released and the payment partner back then was Citibank, for NFC payments). It didn’t catch on then (phones with NFC were few and far-between) and it hasn’t caught on yet (even though there are services like ISIS and Google Wallet). This is due to a variety of reasons: I would guess that it’s mostly because they aren’t a standard unlike using your Credit Card, which is more or less universally accepted. There are other uses for NFC too: Nokia used them as a way to initiate the pairing of your phone with accessories like the Play 360 Speaker (Check it out here) and sharing photos, similar to Google’s Android Beam implementation.
You can also use NFC to set up certain actions: launch a web-page or an app, or perform a function like turning Silent Mode on, or WiFi off. Enabling functions though, is going to be platform dependent. If you have an Android Phone with NFC, you can write NFC tags to save certain functions. Imagine having an NFC tag at your office entrance that would put everyone’s phone on Silent Mode as they walk in: they just have to tap the tag with their phone (I find it really annoying when people leave their phones on normal mode in office, with really loud Notification Tones). Turn on GPS and launch the Maps app when you’re in your car by tapping on a NFC tag in the car. If various venues had NFC tags at the entrance, you could just tap on them with you phone to check in there on FourSquare. Now that would be super useful.But you need the NFC Tags to do this right?
Sony launched the Xperia SmartTags a while back, along with the NXT series of phones. Available for £12.99 on their website for a set of 4 (you could probably shop around and get it for less), you can set up the tags by using the companion app available on the Play Store. Once you get that set up, you just place the tags where you want them. Here’s a look at how you can use these Tags:
Samsung recently launched their NFC accessory, TecTiles, which are a bit cheaper, at $14.99 for a set of 5. And you can set them up using the app that’s available on the Play Store. They have a set of daily scenarios where you could use these TecTiles. Check them out, here.
Check out TecTiles in use in the Video Below:
Now if only there were more phones that had NFC! Interested in getting an NFC enabled phone? Here’s a list on Wikipedia which shows you which phones are NFC enabled.