I have basically stopped explaining what NFC is in my posts. Its probably a little early to do that so today here is a comprehensive primer on NFC from Engadget. NFC is a wireless communication technology that has roots in RFID and has been in use for many years especially in Asia.
“NFC, the brainchild of Sony and NXP, is at the bottom of the wireless totem pole. It allows two devices embedded with chips to snuggle up together and transmit small pieces of data between each other when they are in close proximity. “
“Google Wallet is a prime example of blending hardware and software together. The Wallet is an Android app (available only on Sprint-powered Nexus S phones at first) that will store virtual versions of your credit cards, gift cards, and coupons. Go into the app, punch your PIN code in, and you’ll be able to tap your phone onto the merchant’s paystation to checkout and purchase stuff. But this app wouldn’t do a thing if the Nexus S didn’t have an NFC chip already built-in.”
Engadget lists other uses for NFC:
- Monitor your health
- Mobile tickets for trains/planes/mass transit (see ISIS video below)
- Unlock doors: hotel rooms, cars, etc.
- Pair bluetooth devices by tapping on your phone
- Log onto WiFi networks
- Check-ins: Foursquare, Latitude, etc.
- Initiate a video chat or join a conference call
- Share files between phones: music, docs, photos
- Store mobile “punch cards” for restaurants
- Replace grocery store value cards with mobile coupons
“Over the coming years, a much heavier emphasis will likely be placed on NFC adoption. Several analysts have estimated how many phones will ship with this capability by 2015, all indicating an explosion of growth in NFC use; the chart below takes a look at one such forecast, courtesy of iSuppli.”
“Fears of hijacked mobile payments are part of the reason why we haven’t seen a massive adoption of NFC yet. It’s hard to convince the general populace this is as safe (if not safer) as stuffing your life savings under the mattress, and we imagine this preconceived notion of your bank account getting broken into will take a few years to get over. The big players discussed earlier are investing a huge chunk of money to make sure this type of thing won’t happen, since the success of contactless pay depends on it.”
The future of NFC
“But let’s face it — like it or not, NFC is coming in a big way. You don’t have to participate if you don’t want to, but we’re excited to see what near-field communications will do for us. Yes, there are still a lot of wrinkles that need to be ironed out, but the increase in support in the last six months has been exponential. Get ready, because the NFC news coverage might indeed be a trickle in the desert right now, but the inevitable flash flood that’s coming will be unstoppable.”
I have been writing about NFC for a very long time. I jumped on a Gigaom post that included the prediction: “No mobile wallet in 2011.” Of course as it turns out this year is a watershed year for the mobile wallet due to so many companies involvement. Whether it happens this year or next year the market for and availability of NFC enabled applications and devices is on the way and its coming fast. There is too much money not to want to be involved.