You are going to hear a lot about Near Field Communication in 2011. NFC as it is often abbreviated is a form of Radio Frequency (RF) technology which surrounds us every day in the form of remote controls, baby monitors, and all of the other wireless devices we use. NFC is a short distance version of RF and you will see it mostly emerging this year with your mobile smartphones. Starbucks jumped to the forefront of NFC recently when it introduced the ability to pay for your Frappuccino with your phone. Meanwhile both Apple and Google are alerting everyone that NFC is a key component to both of their smartphone operating systems and hardware.
What does this mean to you?
Think of it like your wallet being merged with your GPS device. You’ll be able to pay for things, check in at locations, and even start your car. Come to think of it, you can do all of that right now. While the term NFC is a bit new to most of us, tech heads will tell you it has been around for years. If you look up Near Field Communication on Wikipedia, you’ll see these application extensions:
- Mobile ticketing in public transport
- Mobile ticketing for concerts and live events
- Boarding Pass on planes and trains
- Mobile payment: the device acts as a debit/credit payment card
- Smart poster: the mobile phone is used to read RFID tags on outdoor billboards
- Bluetooth pairing: as easy as simply bringing mobile phones close to each other
- Electronic money
- Identity documents
- Electronic keys: replacements for physical car keys, house/office keys, hotel room keys, etc.
Outgoing Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently painted this vision of NFC-enabled mobile phones: “I’m walking down the street and I need pants. My phone has an NFC chip. It knows where I am. It tells me about two stores, one to the left with a 20% discount and one to the right with a 30% discount. It is programmed to know I am a cheapskate so points me to the right and the store knows what pants I want.”
TechCrunch talking about Apple’s innovations in NFC said, “If Apple can nail Near-Field Communication (NFC) and tie it directly into their already-established iTunes payment system … It could change everything. It could transform Apple from the biggest technology company in the world, to the biggest company in the world, period. By far.”
Eric Schmidt called this Consumerism at it’s finest. What does that mean exactly? It means our lives are going to get easier and less cluttered. And in the process, we’ll buy more!