A few months ago when Google along with Samsung Mobile announced the Gingerbread release of the Android platform and the new Nexus S flagship device, they also announced one of the main features, Near Field Communication (NFC). NFC is an enhanced version of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology which works over short range using electromagnetic fields to communicate between devices.
NFC has several real, practical and personal use cases which can make a lot of your daily interactions easier by making them touch-less. Paying at transportation systems, accessing buildings and cars as well as getting information on the fly will become much easier with the help of NFC enabled devices. Imagine that your new mobile device comes built-in with an NFC chip. You would be able to simply touch your NFC enabled devices at gas stations, public transit kiosks and to a certain extent at ATM machines to transact effortlessly. All without ever having to take out your wallet look for the cash or coins and without having to punch in PIN numbers. There are several possible retail implementations which can make your shopping experience extremely quick and effortless. Once a retailer implements and integrates NFC readers into their cash registers, you no longer need to carry around your credit cards or retail cards or need to memorize your rewards account numbers, simply touch your NFC enabled mobile device to the reader and the information gets exchanged and you are done.
German luxury car manufacturer, BMW, has indicated their plans on making their next generation cars come equipped with NFC enabled keys. This will allow BMW owners to use their keys to do essentially some of the aforementioned capabilities. Taking it one step further, if you are vacationing and driving your BMW to the vacation spot, simply use your car keys to get access to your hotel room, charge for your meals and pool side drinks to your room by simply tapping your NFC enabled key against the reader.
While North America is just recently starting to toy around with the NFC technology, people in Europe and Asia have had several successful trials of this technology implemented into their mobile phones and smart cards which has allowed them to make purchases, obtain directions and purchase transportation fares.
The NFC Forum is an organization “formed to advance the use of NFC technology by developing specifications, ensuring interoperability among devices and services.” The group was formed in 2004 and now has close to 140 members according to their website. One of the principal members of the NFC Forum is our beloved wireless provider, Rogers along with Sony Ericsson, Texas Instruments, Samsung, LG and Research In Motion to name a few. For Canadians the ZoomPass service, a joint venture between Bell, Rogers and Telus, offers practical implementation of the Mastercard PayPass service which uses NFC technology to make paying at checkout counters seamless.
With Google implementing the NFC technology natively within Android 2.3 is a great boost for developers who want to create applications which rely on exchanging information based on proximity to both users and organizations. Moreover, embedding elements that are NFC aware into stickers, clothing, smart cards and notifying the users through prompts on their mobile devices creates another means of interaction and engagement with the consumer. These are just some of the practical applications of the technology.
In 2011 it is expected that more and more manufacturers including HTC, Samsung, RIM and even Apple will be implementing NFC capabilities within their upcoming products. This will hopefully boost many organizations, retailers, merchants and advertisers to make changes to incorporate NFC technology into their business models.