NFC – Eat it, or be ready to be eaten up…

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By Roy G Thomas

What is the gadget that redefined the way you communicate?

Many of you may say ‘it’s a mobile phone’, of course some of you may have reasons to defy that, but I don’t find any. This was something that was unthinkable a decade and a half ago (experience 1).

Now which is the fastest growing mobile market in the world?

Of course, it’s our own India. This also was something unimaginable when I had my first mobile a Nokia 3310 way back in 2000 (experience 2). Now a days innovations in the communications market is such immense that your most modern gadget will be obsolete in a matter of six months. Most of these innovations would have boosted the gadget sales, but the real value addition is always debatable. Today I am discussing a technology that would be a real value addition for your mobile phone.

So what is NFC?

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a short-range, standards-based wireless connectivity technology, that uses Radio Frequency to enable communication between electronic devices in close proximity. It provides a seamless medium for the identification protocols that helps secure data transfer. This enables users to perform intuitive, safe, contactless transactions, access digital content and connect electronic devices simply by touching or bringing devices into close proximity. Now don’t equate it to bluetooth or RFID its much more on offer than those technologies.

What will be its impact on daily life?

NFC makes people’s lives easier and more convenient by building on existing systems and human behaviour. It will make accessing new media and content services more intuitive, make it easier to pay for things, easier to discover, synchronise and share information, and easier to use transport and other public services.

Potential of NFC enabled applications are endless, but the most important ones can be classified as

§          Payment and Ticketing

§          Service initiation

§          Peer – Peer

Payment and ticketing applications were one of the drivers for the creation of the NFC standard. NFC-enabled mobile phone can be used as a payment and ticketing device – an ‘electronic wallet’. Ultimately this would replace the present day credit, debit, loyalty, pre-paid and other cards that people carry around in their wallets. The security quotient also would be much better.  For example, in ordinary barcode ticketing the barcode can be manipulated or reproduced where as in a NFC based ticketing, the ticket stored in the secure element cannot be even accessed without the users permission.
 
In the service initiation scenario, the user touches an NFC-enabled device – such as a mobile phone – against a specially located NFC tag, which then typically provides a small amount of information to the device. This could be some lines of text, a web address (URL), phone number or other simple piece of data, which the user has decided to obtain.

In the peer-to-peer scenario, NFC is used to enable communication between two devices so that data can be transmitted locally between the two.

Many of you would be confused whether this kind of a technology would be a success that too in a country like India. But with the kind of experience that I shared earlier, I am quite sure that, it will be a success. There could be difference of opinion about the impact of globalisation in our economy, but a very positive impact that I could find is the fast falling prices of electronic gadgets and this would add to my optimism that NFC would be a success in this country. At the current price levels I think an NFC enabled mobile device is bit above the reach of an average Middle class Indian, but the prices are here to fall and fall steep. Again the availability of NFC Stickers that can make any normal mobile phone into NFC enabled mobile phone at a nominal cost, is forcing the manufacturers to reduce the price tag of NFC enabled phones. The early signs of which is already evident in the market.

Having said that, my advice rather appeal to the peers in the industry would be, NFC is here, eat it, before being eaten up.

About the Author

Roy G Thomas is the CEO of Maxartists Technologies, a leading IT solution provider based in Technopark Trivandrum concentrating in the niche areas of NFC Technology , Barcode Ticketing and Server side applications involving leading MNCs in Europe, MiddleEast and Africa.  He has 15 years of industry experience and has worked on various mission critical projects in Europe. He is a B-Tech from Kerala University and an Alumni of TKM college of Engineering. He received his Advanced Diploma in Computing from C-DAC and is a seasoned professional with outstanding skills in project planning and execution.

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