Gears of Tech

Technology. Pure and simple.

NFC Tags – What Are They? What Can We Do With Them?


nfc tagsYou may have recently picked up a brand new smartphone and it says it supports NFC. With the exception of the iPhone, most modern smartphones are compatible with the technology. But you’re sitting there wondering what’s so great about NFC, or otherwise known as near field communication. Well, for one thing, it allows you to tap and share —something that is featured prominently in their commercials.

NFC even allows you to pay for things with your cell phone, if the merchant’s POS system supports it. So far, I’ve only came across a few stores which support it: CVS & Rite Aid. Hopefully more stores will add NFC support in the future.  In addition to this, advertisers may begin exploit NFC for their own advertising purposes. Imagine adding NFC functionality to magazines or certain storefronts so that you can simply tap your phone against the page in order to download their app or receive some promotional music.

However, before any of these fictional ideas become reality, we can take a look at something a little more practical, NFC tags. NFC tags are stickers which contain a small unpowered NFC chip. These tags can be programmed to do what you want it to do: launch a program, change various settings, etc. All you need to do is hold your phone close to it and a small amount of power from the smart phone will activate the NFC tag.

So let’s take a look at a couple things you could do with these NFC tags that can make your life a little easier:

You can set up a NFC tag when you get home to do the following things: Turn-on wifi, turn up the ringer volume, turn off mobile data, turn off power saving modes, etc. You could even have a tag next to your bed that sets the alarm for the next day for you.

How about in the car? If you have a Bluetooth enabled car, the NFC tag could be set to do the following: turn bluetooth on, enable GPS navigation, play Spotify/Pandora through Bluetooth audio, etc.

While you’re working out? Throw a tag in your gym bag and then when you need it, have it disable all your radios and put on your favorite work out playlist.

Working while on the run? Have a tag that enables Bluetooth tethering or a wifi hotspot and disable all other radios that may disrupt your data connection.

The point here is that there are countless possibilities for using NFC tags. Whatever you want to do, as long as it can be programmed, it can be done! Right now Samsung has their own branded NFC Tags called TecTiles, and a five pack of them costs around $15 or so.  An interesting use they have on their website suggests businesses to allow users to check in on Foursquare using the NFC tags. Have you ever had a problem pairing your phone with Bluetooth devices in the past? An embedded NFC tag which autopairs your phone with the device would be simply amazing. No more entering obscure passcodes. Business cards with embedded NFC tags? These already exist! The fact is, NFC implementations we could see industry utilizing are endless.