NFC or Near Field Communication is a technology that enables users to transfer data between two NFC enabled devices. This can be done simply by touching or tapping them together or putting them in close proximity. There are many NFC devices currently in use, such as smart cards, key fobs, wristbands and a range of NFC readers, which include most of the smartphones in use today. This latter fact means that many of us already have the ability to take advantage of this very clever technology. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the top five useful features that you should know about.

  1. App launching

You can now download apps from app stores that enable you to easily program an NFC tag using your mobile phone. What makes these very useful, is that you can program those tags to launch other apps. For example, if you frequently need to find directions when driving, you can place a tag on your dashboard that is programmed to launch Google Maps. If you suddenly find yourself lost, you’ll no longer need to pull over to find the app. Just one tap of your phone on the tag and the app launches for you.

This feature of NFC has a whole range of applications. Supermarkets can use tags on trolleys to launch their shopping apps so that you can scan items as you put them in your trolley and then pay directly from your phone. There’s no need to queue at a checkout and you’ll still be able to use vouchers and earn rewards points. These tags can also be used in the workplace or in schools and colleges to open apps needed for specific working or educational tasks.

  1. Home management

There is a wide range of things you can set your tag to do to help manage your home. For example, when going to bed at night, tapping your phone on a tag can dim the screen brightness, turn down the call volume and set your alarm for the next morning.

If you use your phone to manage other areas of your home, such as your lighting or heating, you can use NFC for this too. For example, the Hue Switch NFC app lets you control your Philips hue lights using tags. You can program tags to turn lights on and off or to change colour and brightness.

If, before leaving home, you always have to take a five-minute trek to turn the lights off in every room, you can end this burden by configuring your lighting app to turn all the lights off. All you need to do then is program a tag to launch that setting and put the tag by the door. Now, when you leave home, one swipe and the lights are out. How convenient is that?

  1. NFC enabled business cards

Business cards have been a ubiquitous form of business advertising since the 1600s and have changed very little in the last 400 years. Thanks to NFC, however, they have now been reimagined for the 21st Century.

NFC enabled business cards, supplied by companies like Universal Smart Cards, do far more than list the ways people can get in touch; instead, they bring potential customers directly to you. You can program the card so that when touched by a phone, your website automatically opens on their phone. You can even program it to open specific landing pages designed for people you have given your card to.

Alternatively, you can use the NFC business card to send your contact details. This way, at busy places like conferences and exhibitions, you can tap and share information. Doing this ensures that your details aren’t going to get lost amongst the pile of other cards and literature that people get handed at these events.

  1. Boarding passes and transport tickets

Imagine a world where you no longer needed to carry lots of paper documents in order to get on a plane or take a train ride? No more stress about making sure you have the tickets or passes with you, nothing to lose on the way, and a much quicker check-in without the long queues.

NFC is beginning to make this happen. You can now store transport tickets and boarding passes on mobile phones or smart cards and can check in just by swiping. Many cities across the world are now using NFC devices to make public transport far easier and efficient.

  1. Paying with your phone

Whilst cash and bank cards aren’t likely to disappear overnight, thanks to NFC, you might not have to rely on them quite so much in future. By having a secure mobile wallet on your phone, such as Apple Pay or Android Pay, you can now pay for goods and services with a wave of your phone.

It’s just like using the tap and pay feature of your bank card, except of course, that you no longer need to carry a bank card around with you. We are now also seeing the development of other ways you can use mobile wallets, for example with parking meters and ticket machines, such as for trains, cinemas and exhibitions.

Summing up

The one word that sums up NFC technology at the moment is exciting. It’s providing businesses, customers and individuals with a wide range of solutions to things that we didn’t think were possible just a few years ago. Its ability to control apps, in particular, means that there are still lots of avenues to explore as this will enable NFC to play a significant part in how we interact with the ever-expanding Internet of Things.