NFC is technology that allows mobile users to touch their phone to an NFC chip (which can be incorporated in a sticker or a reader) in order to get information or register an action. For those in London it's the same sort of principle as an Oyster card and phones running the Android Gingerbread 2.3.3 OS have this NFC / Near Field Communication ability now built in as standard.
NFC is useful for a wide range of things and from a social network perspective it is particularly useful for location based 'check-in's.' Japanese social network site Mixi was the first to offer this sort of NFC functionality (Japanese press release is here) with users able to simply wave their phone in order to check-in to a location.
The Taglet application has been one of the most popular NFC apps to date and the following video offers a demonstration and an explanation of NFC technology:
We now see Foursquare experimenting with this sort of NFC check-in approach at the Google I/O developer conference in California. Google and FourSquare have placed NFC check-in points all over the conference center and users tapping their phone against an NFC point will allow them to check-in and collect the Google I/O FourSquare badge:
Furthermore, NFC can be used for payment:
as well as point of sale couponing, with Enable Table's NFC restaurant couponing a nice example of this:
More and more phones are going to be operating with this sort of NFC capability and embracement by FourSquare may help the technology to permeate. NFC should also increase mobile web usage as it makes getting online even easier. At the beginning mobile web users had to type a web address into a browser, then QR codes / Google Goggles made things simpler by allowing barcodes to be scanned in order for the handset to be automatically directed to a website, but NFC seamlessly fuses real world and the digital world, further reducing the hurdles - simply touch the phone and go!
With NFC rumoured to be a feature of the iPhone 5 too, how long before this is everywhere?
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