A few months ago when I was keynoting for a major meetings industry conference I mentioned that there is already technology that allows people to scan an item with their phone and they can get instant information. This is not completely new- QR codes have been used for the past few years as a direct ‘scan and go to a URL’ technology.
What is new that there is a technology that allows ‘tags’ to be applied to items and locations that when scanned allow you to find out more about an object or even eventually buy it. EBay is looking forward to this technology as it means that if EBay sellers were to use tag technology on their items that they were selling future buyers could simply scan the tag and buy on the spot.
NFC tags trigger smartphones to surf the Web and more. Last fall a Toronto resident placed stickers on her spice containers in her kitchen and when she taps her smartphone against a bottle of turmeric the device searches Google for recipes. The resident is Pearl Chen the founder of Karma Laboratory a technology firm focused on education. Chen sees the stickers as a tool to enhance an objects utility.
The prediction is that NFC enabled phones will take off by 2013 and by 2016 38% of all phones shipped will have the enhancement.
Programmable tags allow for small pieces of paper or plastic stickers that communicate with gadgets and they can be customized to trigger specific actions. Tap your smartphone on the nightstand to set an alarm or to someone’s business card for instant info update.
Apple is considering adding the NFC chip to the new IPhone expected this fall. The tags are available from independent websites. Some of the tags come pre-programmed for specific tasks and others can be customized to dozens of actions.
A website that offers the tags is Tagstand and has sold over 1 million tags in the past year and in June released a mobile app.
Event planners are loving the possibilities of this technology. They can handout specialized items with NFC tags that can be scanned at stations set up around a venue. They can be used on bracelets with tags and provide information on almost any aspect of the event.
For organizations it could give a whole new meaning to ‘look it up’- imagine if an entire manual of information were easily scanned with a smartphone for instant answers in the workplace.
Language barriers could become a thing of the past as we could simply scan the bracelet of someone who does not speak our language and obtain instant translation.
There are a multitude of communication possibilities with the increasingly changing technologies being created and made available.