How will NFC be used in the future?

As companies in the USA start to realize the potential behind NFC, a technology the rest of the world has used for a little while, it’s easy to see why NXP Semiconductors would have a presence at CES 2012. We were given a tour of current and future technologies that NXP is working with to help show companies here why NFC is such a big deal moving forward.

Interactive Gaming

Activision partnered with NXP Semiconductors to release the NFC-powered Skylanders game in late 2011. In the game, the characters are summoned and removed by taking their real-world figurine counterparts on and off the NFC reader. The NFC chip in the figurines also allowed you to save specific in-game data to the model, improving the character as you played. Skylanders has already seen incredible success in the US, though Activision’s decision to make the NFC components they sold closed loop means you can’t use the NFC reader for anything else.

NFC embedded SIM cards

The easiest way to get companies interested in NFC is be demonstrating that it doesn’t require a specific device to have access to the technology. This, for example, is an iPhone 4S with an NFC enabled SIM card in it. The case the iPhone is in acts as the transmitter and receiver. These cases could be put on any iPhone 4S and, with the right application, have access all of the same NFC features as a device like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Significantly more secure online shopping

Any security expert can tell you that there is no such things as 100% secure online shopping. If someone wants that information, is smart enough, and you are shopping online, it can be done. A technical demo we were shown using NFC might seriously decrease the available gaps in security.

The white plate in this photo is an NFC reader that would be always connected to your computer via USB. When you decided you were ready to make a transaction, you take your NFC-powered credit card and set it on the plate. The small LED in the card will glow read to let you know it is ready for your password. Instead of a PIN or a pass phrase you would enter into the computer, you would instead draw a gesture on the card while it was connected to the plate. When your gesture is accepted, all of your payment information would automatically populate the text boxes on the screen, allowing you to complete your transaction.

Start your engines

Many high-end cars are starting to use keyless fobs to open doors and even start vehicles. There are also third party solutions that allow you to start your car by sending a signal to an automatic started from an app on your phone. Why not combine the two?

This demo had a pad on an electric motorcycle that would unlock and allow you to start the bike once you placed your phone on the pad and entered your password. This also served as a pairing between the bike and the phone, and would allow the app on the phone to wirelessly query the bike for things like battery levels, exchanging the information via SMS.

What’s next?

NXP Semiconductors demonstrated an impressive variety of innovative way to use NFC in day to day experiences at CES this year. As more companies warm up to the idea, we will start to see NFC all over the place. Do you like that poster for the upcoming summer blockbuster? Tap your phone to the bottom of the ad and you will be whisked away to the teaser trailer and an app to purchase tickets will open afterwards. Or you could tap your phone to the bus schedule and have a PDF of the schedule beamed to your phone. Small things like these could easily put NFC all over our world in a very short time.


NFC teardown

NFC motorcycle

NFC phones - hands on 002

NFC phones - hands on

NFC phones - 002

NFC phones - 001


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