With the launch of the latest Samsung, HTC and Nokia smartphones the world of NFC enabled applications has taken a large leap forward. The fact is that most of the latest model smartphones now feature this ‘near field communications‘ technology, which let you ‘tap’ to access a range of services and features.
But for many people it’s all still a bit of a mystery. What exactly can you do with NFC tags, and how does it make my life better or more convenient? We’re going to highlight just a few of the more unusual applications for the technology which should give an idea of how it could one day become a very valuable part of our day to day life.
1. Timesheet NFC Add On. Freelance workers and those who need to track their timesheets closely may already know about the free TimeSheet App for Android, but this add-on throws some great NFC into the mix. Just create an NFC tag for each project you are working on, and when you place your phone on top of the tag, the clock starts ticking for that project. Simple and effective way to making sure you log all your hours immediately.
2. Touchanote. Another excellent use for NFC, which uses the hugely popular Evernote clipping service. Instead of just storing your notes in the cloud, you can store them on NFC tags for later access as and when anyone needs to retrieve them. Attach the tiny tag to a physical item and voila, an instant real world reminder. One clever use is to store user manuals on your devices and gadgets, so they’re handy for instant access if you ever want to know how to retrieve information about your camera, music player, washing machine or whatever.
3. RosettaStone Microchip. Rather more macabre, but extremely logical is this unique application which lets you attach a peel and stick microchip to a gravestone which stores data on the person buried at that location. The information can include a whole life story, a photo and geographical information relevant to the deceased or their life.
4. FitTap. Keep track of your fitness activities and sync with your Fitbit account using NFC tags. Simply attach tags to different items you associate or use with your regime (e.g. water bottle, gym bag, trainers etc) and embed something relevant on the tag. So for example if you regularly do a 2 mile run in the morning, you could attach a tag to your trainers which when tapped with your phone after the run would log that jog automatically and upload it to your fitness monitoring account. No laborious logging on a website or phone app. Just a tap.
5. NFC Key. Lock your precious handset with an NFC tag. Install the app, attach a tag to your keychain, and the phone will only be accessible after a tap on the tag. Tap to lock, tap to unlock. You can also lock specific applications and data folders, which makes it a great tool for securing your tablet or phone if you regularly lend it to the kids to play games (or do homework!?).
6. BT Tag Writer. Turn your old Bluetooth speaker into an NFC enabled one, which means you can connect to it with just a tap. No more having to manually turn on Bluetooth, hunt for the connection or pair the two devices together each time. The app lets you write a tag with the correct connection information, after which you just attach the tag to the speaker and when you want to connect the two, just tap. Everything done automatically. Simple but very useful.
So that’s it, our short list of useful tools you can use when you step into the NFC world. This list will doubtless keep growing over time as more phones arrive on the market which support NFC, and in the meantime if you would like to create your own tags and start experimenting, here’s a list of some useful places to look: