In the past weeks, I’ve read plenty of articles and news about NFC, and my immediate thoughts were that near field communication technology is being leveraged in so many industries, from leisure and entertainment to healthcare, from transit to advertising, and more.
And while many of us in the industry have been touting the many different applications to leverage NFC for a few years, the lifecycle on implementation is relatively young as many companies are just now developing solutions that generate value within their industries and sectors. And as these companies invest in processes and infrastructures that enhance customer experience, they are finding more avenues to customer delight are generated through NFC technologies and its capabilities. In a recent blog post, I discussed how expanding the boundaries of NFC technology is a combination of both payment applications and non-payments that will drive ubiquitous NFC adoption with consumers being key players in pushing NFC forward as they demand solutions and applications that provide a valuable customer experience — experiences that generate value as consumers interactive with companies. And much of the industry news I’ve read recently points to that fact.
For example, in the health industry, the mobile healthcare specialist Gentag and IT systems supplier Advanced Health & Care announced the worldwide availability of an NFC phone designed to be used for monitoring home visits made by care workers. This mobile phone allows real-time task lists to be sent to care workers and also records their arrival and departure times at a patient’s home.
Talking about the entertainment and leisure industry, Adaire Fox-Martin, said in her blog, The tech-savvy casino: Customer experience redefined that “Near Field Communication (NFC) are already available and can revolutionize not just the way casino businesses are run for the better but also redefine and refine with precision the total customer experience.”
In retail, the Wafi shopping mall in Dubai is introducing a new service that allows shoppers to collect and redeem loyalty points with their mobile phone using either NFC or Bluetooth. In an article published at Emirates 24/7 Souffiane Houti, founder and CEO of ViaFone Technologies, said, “We believe the technology delivers a win-win situation for both merchants and consumers.” Houti added, “It is a highly efficient and secure way for merchants to extend their existing point of sale, building profiles of their customers and getting them to dig deeper into their behavior and shopping habits. It is also more environmentally friendly, eliminating — over time — the need for plastic cards.”
In looking a facilities management, Malpensa Airport in Milan, Italy, has installed a new maintenance system that uses NFC phones and a network of 50,000 NFC and RFID tags attached to equipment and systems like fire extinguishers, elevators, sprinklers and boarding bridges. Maintenance employees can tap these tags with an NFC device to check in and out of locations. This notifies the back office that planned maintenance and repairs are being done — in real-time. The tags also allow access to documents like checklists, technical specs and other information employees may need to complete their work.
Another use in the airline industry is Japanese Airline’s use of NFC. In a recent article published at asmag.com, Koichi Tagawa of Sony and Chairman of the NFC Forum noted that the customer experience in airports has been enhanced where NFC technology has shortened the boarding process of a 450-person plane to just 15 minutes— a process that normally takes 40 minutes without the use of NFC.
We’re already quite familiar with the use of NFC in the advertising industry. Most recently we’ve seen the buzz around outdoor wear manufacturer JanSport. JanSport’s latest ad campaign in New York combines Blue Bite’s mTag© NFC platform, San Francisco-based Teak’s signage and out-of-home media buyer Kinetic’s consultancy. The interactive signage showed up on Cemusa newstands and transit shelters, and allows users to download custom video content from JanSport and listen to free music from local bands — just by tapping their NFC phones to a tag or scanning a QR code.
This kind of interactive marketing — one of many campaigns we’ve seen over the past year — enriches the experience between the brand and its consumers by providing exclusive entertaining content.
And last but not least, the transit industry is leveraging the power of NFC technology. For example, a total of 500 bus stops in the city of Madrid became “smart” by incorporating NFC touch points and other technologies such as QR codes. This allow tourists and citizens to quickly and easily get information about bus schedules, tourist attractions, monuments, and more — again, just with the tap of an NFC-enabled phone.
In a press release from the SmartCard Alliance on May 17 of this year, Mohamed Awad of Broadcom and vice chairman of the NFC Forum said, “NFC should create, communicate and deliver value to customers.” He added, “There are several use cases where organizations are communicating the value of products to customers by differentiating with NFC, including smart home appliances, interactive games, travel services, opt-in magazine ads, and even tombstones.”
So while the pundits may continue to allude to why NFC isn’t catching on, or that NFC will not take off until companies like Apple buy in to the technology, we truly are seeing more uses and more implementations rolling out globally in more industries than ever before.
[Editor’s note: We wish to thank Izan Coomonte Suárez for his assistance and research in pulling this article together.]
About the Author:
Robert P. Sabella brings over 20 years of legal and entrepreneurial experience to OTA Ventures and is considered one of the most innovative leaders in developing and bringing new technologies to market. OTA Ventures is a combination companies that are synergistic in their focus and that leverage common infrastructure, both physical and intellectual. Mr. Sabella is also founder and CEO of OTA Training, LLC, the producer of the NFC Bootcamp™ training series, and has recently co-founded the AccelerateNFC incubator program, dedicated to fostering start-ups in bringing NFC technology to the market.