Ask almost any mobile tech savvy person about NFC and they can give you a pretty good answer. It’s short for Near Field Communication and allows devices to interact with each other by being in very close proximity. It can be used to transfer files or simply trigger things. The possibilities are incredibly vast with NFC and it makes me wonder, why isn’t this used more commonly?
For a start, one of the biggest platforms out there, iOS, doesn’t even support NFC. This isn’t all that surprising as iOS is usually a little late to the party with spanking new technologies but is still a major factor. As for the other two big players, Android and Windows Phone 8, they’re both lacking in devices that have NFC as well as uses for it. Typically, only high-end phones have been graced with NFC capabilities. This is beginning to change but with good reason. NFC is not at all a hard technology for manufacturers to incorporate into their devices. Leaving out NFC is due to the fact that manufacturers don’t believe that there are enough things to take advantage of the technology yet. But leaving out NFC is counter-productive to that end because things won’t be created to incorporate it if there aren’t devices to take advantage of it.
The key to getting NFC to catch on is to incorporate it into ways that the average consumer will use. For the most part, NFC is currently used in things that the average consumer either doesn’t know about or simply doesn’t have a use for. Google Wallet tries to get consumers to pay for things with their phone but due to carrier restrictions and a lackluster rollout of pay stations, it’s really not having much of an impact on NFC ventures. This saddens almost every fan of NFC technologies because we want to see it take off and be commonly used. Unfortunately, the carrier situation is out of our control and isn’t easily changed.
But there are plenty of other applications as well. NFC tags such as Samsung’s TecTiles aim to make life easier and faster by allowing you to do a whole menagerie of things with just a simple tap of your phone. For example, a business could put a TecTile on the front counter or on a table and a customer could simply tap their phone on the TecTile to check in on a social network such as Foursquare. Or perhaps they could download a digital business card. Maybe they could open a certain webpage. There’s so many different options that they could take advantage of that you’re left scratching your head, bewildered as to why these sorts of things aren’t already used more often.
One of the primary reasons is that the average consumer doesn’t know about NFC or how powerful it really is. NFC could truly change the way that we do things by making things faster and simpler with just a simple tap or even wave of your phone. For example, I recently visited a college for a few days and while staying in the dorms I noticed something. The security locks used NFC. The security doors that required a card to enter didn’t need to be swiped at all. Nor did you even have to actually tap the card to the scanner. As long as the card was within a couple of inches of the scanner, it would recognize it and unlock the door. You wouldn’t believe how much easier life can be when you simply have to swipe your wallet past a scanner to unlock a door. It was fast, simple, and efficient. It cut down on the time that people spent to get inside as they didn’t have to dig through their wallet to find their key card. They could simply swipe the entire wallet. This use could be implemented in all sorts of things and while losing the card could pose a security risk, it’s no different than losing a physical key. And besides that, the card was multi-functional and worked for a variety of other things across campus. An excellent implementation of this sort of technology.
So what needs to be done to allow NFC to grow? To begin with, consumers have to be informed of what the technology is and how they can use it. Without the owners of these NFC devices knowing what they can use NFC for, it will never grow. But if people are well informed of what they can do with it and can regularly incorporate it into their lives, NFC will blossom because there will be demand for new ways to use it. But developers and manufacturers also need to be working to come up with new ways to use the technology. If they don’t also make an attempt to grow it, it will be stagnant and never take off. What we need is a happy union between customers who know what NFC is and regularly use it and developers and manufacturers who are willing to help expand the capabilities of the technology. But I’m merely a single voice in a world of many. What about you, valued reader? What are your feelings on NFC? How would you use it? What are your ideas? Your fingers are itching for some exercise so give them the comment and keyboard workout and put your thoughts into text down below!