Will NFC prove to be useful or just another thing to show off?

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: December 12, 2010

One of the most interesting features coming in future phones (one just a few days away from launch) and already found in select devices is NFC, or Near Field Communication, technology. Intrigued, I did a little research on NFC and its applications in the real world. The question I ask is, will NFC be a useful technology, or will it be just another toy we will never actually use? It may seem irrelevant to a lot of people, but when I started thinking of how exactly we could expect to see NFC come to life, hundreds of ideas filled my head. With the right application, this technology could be revolutionary.

NFC is by no means a new technology. It's been around for some time, but  has yet to be adopted for widespread use. Now that it has grabbed the attention of major cellphone manufacturers, we can expect to see being used in various applications, both as a tool and a novelty. For instance, something we have all dealt with before is being in your local electronics store and wanting more information on a specific product but there are no employees to be found. What do you do? Hold your phone up to the tag and presto! The specifications and product information is now on your phone for you to look at now, to reference later, or to compare against similar products. You can already do this to an extent with a barcode scanner, but with this method, it takes zero effort. The implementations you can expect to see are near limitless, as long as they stay within the range of about 10 cm. You could pair a Bluetooth headset by holding it close to your phone and accepting the connection; you could use it in transferring files between two devices; or even use it as a payment method. So rather than trying to text, email, or Bluetooth transfer some pictures to a friend nearby, you could just hold your devices close to each other and send them using NFC.

I also see social networking taking advantage of NFC. Facebook's Deals and Places could be simplified into waving your phone over a Facebook tag in a store for the deal to pop up. There would be no more need to launch the application, check in, then see what the deal is. One swift motion of pulling your phone out of your pocket and waving it near a sign could do the same in a fraction of the time. No more GPS issues with Foursquare or Gowalla. Again, just wave the phone over the respective tag and you're checked in you receive whatever badges and points you've earned.

Ultimately, I would expect NFC to follow in Bluetooth's footsteps and become a technology we will grow to expect in every phone. The two are very similar technologies but NFC is a far more efficient and effortless way to get interactive media in people's hands, so I expect corporations will jump on this in no time. It will be months (or more) before we see any commercialized implementation of NFC, but when this happens I imagine it will be very common thing. At least I hope it is. Of course, like any other technology, NFC has its limitations, but for all intended purposes, I don't see any real drawbacks to using this over any other method. It's quick, easy, and there is no learning curve to use it. What do you guys and gals think of NFC? Is it useless, or do you think it's extremely handy and can't wait to get your hands on it like me? Also, I want to hear your crazy ideas of how NFC could be incorporated into everyday life.

Image via SlashGear

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