Spotlight on the U.S.: What’s new and cool in NFC?

Last updated: 20 March 2014

Near Field Communication, or NFC as it’s widely known, is playing a bigger part in our lives than ever before. You may not know it, but the past decade has seen NFC technology evolve from a distant technology specification into a real world solution for some of the most secure (and efficient) tech interactions we experience today.

Aside from entering a secure office building, or paying for something with your mobile phone, NFC technology has many creative uses. Take for instance, the InstaWifi app that gives people access to your Wi-Fi network at the tap of a tag – very handy for friends and family members who come over or for visitors to an office. It’s a free Android app that lets you program an NFC tag that, when tapped with an NFC-enabled device, gives the phone or tablet instant access to the associated Wi-Fi network, without revealing the password.

Another quirky function I’ve discovered is that if you’re an Evernote user, you can get NFC shortcuts to specific Evernotes. With Touchanote, (another free app) NFC tags can be programmed to link directly to specific notes. Examples include a tag on your desk that opens a to-do list, or placing a tag near a product that links to a note with instructions on how to use it. Pretty neat, eh?

One of the most recent inventions in this space that’s caused genuine excitement is the NFC ring. As Natasha Lomas explains in her article on TechCrunch, “provided you’re happy to wear a bit of bling, the relatively slim line ring gets around some of the awkwardness associated with bumping and grinding NFC phones together” and of course, being passive NFC, it doesn’t actually need any battery power to work.

The NFC ring is an example of the ‘flow factor’ that many people are anticipating will become part of everyday life as NFC becomes more prevalent (as seen in our NFC parkour video) and numerous vending machine promotions across the world.

In reality, most of today’s NFC applications are appearing in less glamorous, but equally useful methods, like in the tracking service created by Spanish technology integrator Stel Solutions which attaches NFC tags to laundry garments to reduce handling errors when items are cleaned. Admittedly, that may not excite consumers, but curved NFC phones like the Samsung Galaxy Round smartphone certainly will.

Have you come across a creative use of NFC recently? Let us know in the comments section below.

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