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NFC – get ready for the new privacy busting tech to arrive on a handset near you soon


The interesting thing about yesterday’s Google Nexus S handset announcement –  apart from the fact that for some strange reason they’ve left out a microSD memory expansion slot –  is th inclusion of NFC technology. For the uninitiated NFC, or Near Field Communication, is being touted as the Big New Thing in mobile circles.

The tech basically allows you to use your phone as a wireless credit card, wallet or other identification device, simply by waving it near a compatible receiver. Bricks and mortar stores and other purveyors of fine offline merchandise and services are salivating in the wings waiting for us all to carry around one of these NFC devices, so we can shop shop shop, with the same kind of ease as we do with 1–click ordering online.


If you don’t believe us, take a look at the upcoming trials of the Gemalto NFC Upteq N-Flex product which adds NFC to any 3G mobile device by attaching it to the SIM card with a wafer cradle affair. The big deal about this product is the fact that you can retrofit it to just about any handset and instantly turn it into a NFC device. Oooh look, more shoppers on the horizon.

Unfortunately all this cool technology seems destined to bring with it yet another set of unintended consequences, when we remember that in the USA alone, over 70 million people a year lose their cell phones. More than 100,000 are left in the back of London black cabs every year, so goodness knows how many go missing worldwide.


Now I don’t know about you, but the thought of having my bank acount access or buying power floating around in such a vulnerable bit of plastic doesn’t sit well with the old sleep patterns. No matter how secure the technology seems now, it’s likely that we’re going to witness a concerted effort to crack, hack and generally break the system by the not so nice people, while paranoia rises on the part of the innocent consumer.

Could be wrong, but this may get interesting.

 Nexus S is the first smartphone to feature a 4” Contour Display designed to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand and along the side of your face. It also features a 1GHz Hummingbird processor, front and rear facing cameras, 16GB of internal memory, and NFC (near field communication) hardware that lets you read information from NFC tags. NFC is a fast, versatile short-range wireless technology that can be embedded in all kinds of everyday objects like movie posters, stickers and t-shirts.

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.

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