Six Future Uses for NFC: More than Just Mobile Payments

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NFC and the Retail Shopping Experience

NFC also promises to expand and enhance the modern retailer shopping experience, according to Forrester, via a combination of wireless coupons, loyalty cards and payment options.

From the Forrester report:

"NFC tags placed on product shelves will enable consumers to access more personalized information about products when scanning them with an app that integrates their personal profile; for example, if you're allergic to nuts, the product scan could automatically detect if the product contained nuts and alert you...Tap-for-information, tap-to-add-to-basket, tap-for-coupons, and other new usage scenarios will have an increasing impact on the retail industry."

A "Digital Gumball Machine" from advertising firm Razorfish is just one quirky example of how NFC could transform the modern shopping experience. The machine dispenses a variety of digital goods, including song downloads, movies, e-book and location-specific coupons to users after they feed it a few coins and tap it with their compatible NFC devices.

Cityzi : la visite du musée by AFSCM

NFC and Marketing

NFC technology has far-reaching implication for modern marketers.

For example, users with NFC phones can quickly wave their devices over NFC-enabled flyers, advertisements, billboards or movie posters to instantly collect additional information on products or service.

Businesses can place NFC tags in the entrances to their stores so users can check-in automatically on social networks like foursquare or Facebook, or share details or "Likes" with friends. The Walibi amusement park in Belgium recently rolled out a first-of-its-kind NFC-based system called Walibi Connect that lets users scan NFC-enabled bracelets to automatically send updates and Likes of events and attraction at the amusement park to their Facebook pages. The system also rewards frequent users with badges and other achievements based on NFC check-ins.

On the food service side, bars and restaurants can order NFC enabled drink coasters and other promotional materials from a company called RadipNFC so patrons can scan them and get more information on the business or advertisers.

NFC and Device-to-Device Sharing, Collaboration

NFC can also be used as a short-range technology to beam files and other content between devices that are close to each other. The functionality could be great for collaboration in corporate environments when sharing documents or for multiplayer gaming.

 Samsung Galaxy SIII Smartphones and Android Beam
Samsung Galaxy SIII Smartphones and Android Beam

The popular NFC-enabled Samsung Galaxy S III, and a number of additional new NFC Android phones use a feature called Android Beam to send data back and forth between compatible devices via NFC.

Zynga, a virtual poker game for Android, uses NFC-based Android Beam to let users tap their smartphones or tablets together to play live multiplayer online poker.

More Opportunities for NFC

Various universities across the globe are also investigating the potential of NFC. The University of San Francisco is currently using an NFC-based system called One Card for student building access, including dorms and eating facilities, meal payments and laundry costs, among other things.

For air travel, airlines including Alaska Airlines is experimenting with NFC for boarding passes and security access.

For concerts, Samsung is working on a system that will let concert goers access shows and events using NFC instead of traditional paper tickets.

In the auto industry, BMW has built an NFC-enabled car key that can not only unlock an automobile, but also eventually help you book and access hotels room while you're traveling.

NFC may be an emerging technology, but it is emerging at a rapid pace. Over the next five years, expect NFC to transform the way we travel, purchase goods and communicate with each other.

Al Sacco covers Mobile and Wireless for Follow Al on Twitter @ASacco. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Al at

This story, "Six Future Uses for NFC: More than Just Mobile Payments" was originally published by CIO.

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