Is NFC the answer to our data transfer dreams?
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March 8 2018

Moving information from a real-world to a digital format has always been an interesting challenge for engineers. I'm probably one of the few people reading this that's old enough to remember when infrared pairing was said to be the holy grail of contact sharing (back when phones looked like they drew their design inspiration from Space 1999). Since then, we've had everything from Bluetooth to QR codes.

 

You remember QR codes right? Those little black and white stickers that you snap with your phone. It turns out they're actually a fantastic way of communicating information and really great for marketing purposes. They enable brick-and-mortar companies to control their information hierarchy to match their customers' needs. The problem? Nobody uses them. Or at least, not to their full potential.

 

A quick, simple data transfer protocol that's used by everyone is the key to enriching point-of-sale positions with digital information, blending the personal experience of the real world with the massive potential of digital. The challenge is creating something cheap enough for companies to buy in to, and easy enough for consumers to use to enable global adoption.

 

Near-field communication - the technology that goes into making your Apple Pay run - could be the solution to that problem. NFC uses tiny computer chips that are cheap to produce and don't require pairing to connect, allowing very quick transfers of small amounts of data. NFC allows contact-based communication between two sets of hardware, meaning it has much more potential than QRs non-contact format.

 

The simplicity of NFC is potentially transformative; from food that tells you its calorie count to books that give you video reviews on the spot. Unlike QR codes, the software required to run them is native to most people’s phones, meaning you won’t have to download an app. The only question is, how will it transform your business?

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