Near field communication or NFC has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue for recently, thanks in large part to Apple Pay. But for IT professionals in the know, NFC is a well-documented technology that can be used for more than just point of sale. In fact, NFC hacks are a popular hobby for some technology enthusiasts. Below, we present some interesting and useful applications of NFC that we guarantee have nothing to do with point of sale.
Please note however, that some the suggested uses for NFC below pertain primarily to Android smartphones. Unfortunately, NFC on the iPhone 6 is only used by Apple Pay™ as Apple does not allow third party app developers access to the NFC hardware.
One of the most useful features of NFC is the ability to transfer data a la Wi-Fi™—though with a much more limited range. To transfer files with NFC, both devices will need to have an app that can utilize the NFC hardware on the phones. One such app is SuperBeam which is free and relatively easy to use.
One caveat is that if the person you want to transfer files to is not knowledgeable about NFC file transfers, you may have to take a few minutes to explain to them how to download and use the app. But once you have explained everything and the app has been installed, file transfers can be initiated in a matter of seconds.
Turning On Your Workstation
As a tech-savvy Reddit user discovered, it is possible to use a smartphone equipped with NFC to remotely turn on a computer using NFC tags, several apps and the Wake-on-LAN functionality of a computer. So as you come into the office in the morning, you can turn on your workstation just by putting your smartphone next to your NFC tag. For detailed instructions on how to do this, see the Reddit thread.
Sharing Wi-Fi Access
NFC can also be used to share Wi-Fi logon credentials with guests and users, which can come in handy if your wireless network uses a strong password or key. In addition, it offers more security than have the password or key on physical media. With Android Lollipop or a third party app such as NFC TagWriter, you can embed an NFC tag with the Wi-Fi network’s logon information and provide the tags to guests to scan.
With NFC, you can create a digital business card that you can share with anyone using an NFC-equipped smartphone. For instance, you can use an NFC-equipped business card to store your digital portfolio, contact information, and other data that you want to share with clients and colleagues. Alternatively, you can ditch the physical aspect of a business card and essentially use your smartphone or NFC tags to share your digital portfolio.
Another use for NFC is to incorporate it into advertising, similar to how QR codes are currently used. In the image at the top for instance, NFC is being used to provide a link to a Web site and more contact information. Your NFC-equipped advertisements need not be stationary either, as you can integrate NFC tags into your marketing campaigns.
Though NFC has been around for several years, it is still not widely used outside of point of sale. But as more phones are equipped with NFC, we may see even more uses for NFC than the ones mentioned above. If you have an idea on how NFC can be used, please share in the comments.