NFC (Near Field Communication) has been getting more attention from the media after becoming mobile payments and creative marketing technology. Most recent mobile devices support NFC, but most people don’t really know about or use it.
Just a couple of years ago, we wondered if this technology actually has future. Today, we wouldn’t be able to function as we do without it.
NFC tags can be small stickers, which contain a small unpowered NFC chip. Depending on how the tag is programmed, it can change various settings, launch apps, and perform specific actions just by holding your phone close to it. To do this, the tag takes a small amount of power from the smartphone and sends its stored information onto it.
For the ones who haven’t programmed NFC tags before, we created a short video tutorial:
And if you are planning to get some for yourself, check out this decent starter kit.
Creative and practical ways to use NFC tags
Stick an NFC tag near your entrance door and let it do things, such as enabling your
Wi-Fi, turning off Bluetooth, and turning up the ringer volume. For example, with the right app (Trigger, for example), you can program the tag to switch back the settings once you tap your phone on the tag a second time – disabling Wi-Fi, turning on Bluetooth, etc.
In the car
If you have a Bluetooth-compatible car radio or headset in your car, then an NFC tag will certainly make your life easier. Let it turn on your Bluetooth, so your smartphone automatically connects to your radio or headset and let it play your favorite playlist. Do you use your phone’s GPS to navigate? You can enter your home address, and automatically when you connect your phone and car, the address will appear, and you will be guided home. Yes, it raises some privacy issues, and if your vehicle is stolen, people can see your address, but most likely, your address is already in the navigation so that NFC won’t change much.
Get new friends – share social media credentials
How many times you needed to search for someone on Facebook or Instagram manually, and the person is standing right next to you? To shorten the process and makes it easier for you (especially with Instagram or TikTok nicknames), you can use NFC. You can purchase blank NFC cards from Amazon and add your social media details. Also, you can program them and send them to users through different services, such as About.me. https://about.me/
On the bedside table – to fall asleep and to finally wake up in time
Obviously, you don’t want to be woken up in the middle of the night. That is why you mute your phone or put it in flight mode every time you go to bed. Let a tag do that for you with just a tap. Do you own a dock for your phone? Let the tag launch a nightstand app to have a dimmed clock and other content displayed.
To wake up
Get out of bed in time by forcing yourself to go to the bathroom and scan a tag to stop your alarm. Isn’t that a great idea?! Try the app Puzzle Alarm Clock, which features include NFC.
Turn on your computer remotely
This one is a little bit more advanced but marvelous. Imagine coming home, tapping an NFC tag at your entrance which automatically turns on your PC or laptop. You need a few apps to be able to do that:
- NFC Tools Pro https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wakdev.nfctools.pro&hl=en
- NFC Tasks https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wakdev.nfctasks&hl=en
Once you install these apps, follow the steps on the screen to remotely turn on your computer.
Covid Assistance – Download apps, menu, and more
Maybe you’ve noticed that right now, instead of a regular menu, in most coffee shops, you will get a bar code to scan and see the menu? Part of contactless service and post-Covid life. Also, during a pandemic, some airports that require you to self-isolate put the same bar codes at the airport, so you can download the app and register yourself for quarantine. Yet, some of those decided to have a different approach. Since QR codes are hard to scan, and some people are unsure what to do after scanning, we got NFC tags. Just put your phone close to the tag, and the menu or the app will pop up on your screen immediately. Way more practical, I’d say.
Create a hotspot for your laptop or tablet
Place a tag on your notebook, tablet, or on their cases and let it turn on your phone’s portable Wi-Fi hotspot. This can be very useful if you are on the go or working on the train and you need an internet connection to look something up quickly. Make sure to let the tag toggle your Wi-Fi hotspot so that you can turn it off again with a quick tap.
Save battery while being in the subway
Traveling in the subway mostly means that your phone is having a hard time looking for a cell signal which drains battery power. To prevent that, stick a tag somewhere at the stations you mainly use to get to work or on your bag (less weird) and let it turn on/off flight mode.
For music producers – listen to a specific song on Spotify, watch a particular video on YT, etc.
If you are a part of the band or have any relations to one, such as a manager, you can easily promote it with NFC tags. On all the material given about your band, you can add an NFC tag that would play your song on users’ devices the moment they interact. However, just in case, check the laws related to such matter in your state.
Easy pet tracking and identification
Let’s say you have a pet that loves to run away sometimes. Wouldn’t it be much easier to use NFC technology to know all the details about the pet and return it to the owner? Of course. That’s why using NFC on a pet’s chip can be a perfect solution.
Also, there’s an idea for hospitals to insert vaccine chips into pets with all the health information, so your pet can always get adequate assistance without a long check of medical history.
In your wallet – like a business card
At business meetings, conferences, and other events, networking is essential. Many business cards switch hands, but there’s always the risk of running out of cards. An NFC tag in your wallet or event badge can erase that risk by containing your “emergency business card” ready to be scanned by others.
It’s also a great idea to have physical business cards with an NFC chip inside. This chip could send a person to your company website or store the location of your store, for example.
There are currently many companies selling pre-made business cards, such as MobiloCard, while the option is also to buy a blank one from Amazon for a lower cost and program it yourself.
Make payments using NFC tags
If you use Google Pay or Apple Pay, you use NFC technology every day without being aware of it. Yes, I know, you are surprised, and so was I. You knew about NFC all along but never thought it’s the same. Every time you wish to pay something using your Android or iPhone, you need to put your device close to the reader, right? Well, that’s an obvious NFC for you!
Give others access to your Wi-Fi.
Place an NFC tag in your living room or near the entrance, which gives your friends instant access to your Wi-Fi without revealing your password. An NFC device’s close proximity needs to have with the tag makes it impossible for strangers to connect to it from outside the house.
This is a fantastic idea for coffee shops since you wouldn’t need to ask all the time for a Wi-Fi password if you just had a stick with a Wi-Fi logo on it.
Lock and unlock your door
Innovative home technology has become a huge trend, but until now, many solutions are still quite pricey and need a rather complex installation. The smart door lock ‘Lockitron’ is one of the more affordable home automation systems. Besides being able to lock and unlock your door with an NFC tag or device, you can also control the lock with your smartphone (iOS & Android) from anywhere in the world. How’s that possible? Lockitron is connected to your home Wi-Fi. It also offers more features, such as giving guests access to friends or getting notifications if a family member enters the house.
Send a pre-populated text message or make a call
If you are wondering why the hell you need it, it’s simple. During Covid, and I believe long after it, we will need to let each other know that we arrived at a destination to enter someplace safely. So, instead of making that call or text, wouldn’t it be cool to have a place to put your phone nearby, and it will automatically send a text or call, letting everyone of interest know that you are there?
NFC tags in education
Schools and universities can use NFC tags to supply students with special “hidden” information. One great example of educational use of NFC is the Central College Nottingham in the UK. Many NFC touchpoints are placed close to different objects on its campus to make it easier for foreign language students to learn English. Once they tap their phone on one of the touchpoints, they receive a name and a description. The college used QR codes before but said that students hardly scanned them due to a QR scanning app requirement. Although it makes much sense to use NFC tags in education, I admit that using them to learn a new language in your spare time does not really make sense. The traditional approach with Post-Its is much more convenient, to be honest.
Set the coffee maker time
How many times you woke up and just wanted your coffee? If you’re any like me, without the first coffee, you simply do not function. This is why I find this NFC tag use life-saving. You can place an NFC tag on your coffee maker and set the timer through it.
Own a business? Use NFC tags!
Bars, restaurants, hairdressers, and similar businesses can use NFC tags to promote their business and increase customer satisfaction.
Lure potential customers to you by placing promotional posters in your neighborhood with NFC tags containing your location (don’t forget to make them “real-only” first). Once someone scans one, the Google Maps app will launch, showing the location of your business. That’s just one out of many examples of how you can use NFC in marketing.
But don’t just stop there. Find relevant ways to satisfy your customers. For example, place tags on your products containing additional information (landing page, customer reviews, product video …) or use tags that check in your customers on Foursquare.
Restaurants and bars could use NFC tag stickers on tables that send some sort of signal, saying that a customer needs a waiter or wants to have the bill. An easy and improvised way to make it happen is letting the tag send an email, triggering a notification in the owner’s email app.
There are countless possibilities to use NFC tags. Just play around with the tags and find the settings that suit you best. How are you using NFC tags? Share your favorite tag settings with us in the comments!