The Evolution of NFC
As many of you know by now, we at Rhomobile are very excited about Near Field Communications. We see NFC as the single most important innovation in mobility since the creation of the modern smartphone as exemplified by the first iPhone. NFC on modern smartphones will finally usher in the age of the “Internet of Things”. Now that NFC devices are arriving, we see NFC usage exploding in four major phases:
Device to Device Communication
The initial phase of NFC usage will be sharing information between devices, being enabled of course by the coming explosion of NFC smartphones in the rest of 2011. Examples of this include Hashable for contact sharing and DoubleTwist for MP3-sharing.
Tag Reading Apps
The next phase, gated on the availability of NFC tags being widely available from retailers and others, is NFC for tag reading to check prices, get product information, or even tourist information. Note that this tag reading can take place and be useful long before purchasing takes off in force.
Using your smartphone with NFC as your “electronic wallet” is the scenario talked about most often with NFC. For example, you could use your smartphone held near a payment device to pay your restaurant check, as made possible by Verifone and Micros Systems. And of course the purchasing scenario combined with NFC tags is even more compelling. It enables self-service shopping combined with a very fast and foolproof purchasing step, all enabled by each consumer’s ubiquitous smartphone.
Once tags are available on all of these objects, driven by these previous two phases, a final phase can begin (that we haven’t seen discussed much): intelligent adaptation and management of everyday objects. Specifically most new products will be NFC tagged. This allows a whole host of new kinds of apps where the NFC tag on the object can enhance the smartphone user’s experience and productivity.
A Morning in an NFC Life
Bob is on a business trip. He wakes up to the hotel alarm clock whose NFC tag was written to by his smartphone the night before. He walks over to the coffee machine which begins brewing based on writing to the NFC tag the night before. He carries the coffee out to his rental car, and it opens based on holding his smartphone next to an NFC-tag driven lock, which recognizes his phone based on his initial checkin. He drives to a breakfast place for a meeting. Sitting down at his table, he can read what’s on the menu based on an NFC tag on the table. After eating, he pays his check with the NFC-based payment device his server carries. He drives to the airport for the flight ho,me and checks in for his flight at the gate with his smartphone, without any error-prone barcode reading (or paper of course).
Ubiquitous smartphones equipped with NFC chips and world of “mostly NFC tagged objects” opens up huge new possibilities for apps which are only starting to be imagined.