Impressions On The Upcoming NFC Technology – Your Mobile As Your Wallet Or Ticket Or…

Fresh from a Q&A on three of Nokia’s upcoming innovations – Near Field Communication (NFC), Indoor Positioning and Connected Home, I bring you my thoughts. These are part of the legends on display at the Legends Telegraph website.

The Q&A was hosted by RobbieD of WOM World, attended by bloggers and enthusiasts, but most importantly by three Nokia employees who are actually working towards making the the above technologies a part of our life. Peter who works for Nokia’s Device Experience organization and is responsible for NFC (Near Field Communication), Brett Murray from Nokia’s Global Research Promotion responsible for Nokia Indoor Positioning and Janne from Nokia Connected Home. So before I try and share what I have gained from the discussion, I’d like to thank WOM World for the invitation and Peter, Brett and Janne for taking the time out to answer our questions.

This post will be dedicated to NFC, a technology that I can’t wait to see go mainstream. Connected Home and Indoor Positioning will be covered subsequently.

NEAR FIELD COMMUNICATION

The Q&A started by Peter explaining what NFC was, a short-range wireless communication technology, which enables the exchange of data between devices over a few centimeters distance. Two NFC enabled mobiles can talk to each others by simply touching them together and can then exchange data, for example business cards, or can exchange Bluetooth or WLAN parameters to set up a faster data link for transferring files, for example video or photos. Furthermore, NFC is the technology that enables us to move your credit cards, loyalty cards, and travel card all in one place: inside your mobile phone.

Basically you can simply touch two devices and forego having to pair them via Bluetooth. With this, phones can act as your credit card and so on. Interesting and very desirable.

  • So the first question that comes to our minds is when can we see this happen? The answer is two fold. Although devices like the Nokia 6212 Classic and Nokia 6131 already come equipped with NFC but mainstream adoption is still 2-3 years away, although trials in Europe, North America and Asia are on.
  • Since, my phone will be my wallet, what if the battery runs out? You needn’t worry, as power is only needed in some use cases e.g. sharing and pairing and for others features like a payment application can also run if the phone is switsched off – it works with induction.
  • My next question was, why can’t we have NFC in high end devices at least starting now, so it paves the way for easier adoption? The answer to that is that the standards were released in February/March this year  and Nokia is still working with chip vendors to implement it. NFC remains an important aspect of Nokia’s plans for the future.
  • What services can be expected soon? According to Peter, “we start simple with perhaps sharing and pairing and might add complexity later…payment and ticketing require more of an ecosystem”.
  • Is this being worked on somewhere? Yes we do infact, we have pilots running with MasterCard and Visa, as well as NYC and Boston public transport system.
  • Now for some of my thoughts and understanding of the technology. Since NFC is slower than bluetooth (424 kbit/s v. 2.1 mbit/s) it will act as more of an enabler between phones (as soon as you put the devices together they’ll be paired and ready to transmit) inspite of being a secure medium itself. However, in places where only small ammounts of data is transfered it will be the ruling force.

Some present and possible uses, courtesy of Wikipedia:

There are three main use cases for NFC:

  • Card emulation: the NFC device behaves like an existing contactless card
  • Reader mode: the NFC device is active and read a passive RFID tag, for example for interactive advertising
  • P2P mode: two NFC devices are communicating together and exchanging information.

Plenty of applications are possible, such as:

  • Mobile ticketing in public transport — an extension of the existing contactless infrastructure.
  • Mobile payment — the device acts as a debit/ credit payment card.
  • Smart poster — the mobile phone is used to read RFID tags on outdoor billboards in order to get info on the move.
  • Bluetooth pairing — in the future pairing of Bluetooth 2.1 devices with NFC support will be as easy as bringing them close together and accepting the pairing. The process of activating Bluetooth on both sides, searching, waiting, pairing and authorization will be replaced by a simple “touch” of the mobile phones.

Other applications in the future could include:

Are you ready to see your mobile do all that? I can’t wait.

10 thoughts on “Impressions On The Upcoming NFC Technology – Your Mobile As Your Wallet Or Ticket Or…”

  1. Well, though I would like to have all my credit cards used simple, I think this poses a certain security risk. I do understand that Nokia will make service as secure as possible, but still, there’s a possibility to abuse such service.

  2. Well, I thought about that too, but I’ve come to the conclusion that this will be safer that your credit card. Eg. If you loose your credit card – all is lost. You loose your phone and the data/application can still be protected via a password.

  3. well it’s really very good but i think that the sluggish performance of nokia devices and a slower connection will obviously be frustrating.

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