What Keeps NFC from Moving Forward?

Tylt-Tagstand-NFC-grow-rfid-blogNFC is one of the closest technologies we have to actual magic. It’s an extremely low-power radio signal that allows data to be transferred from a poster or sticker to a system like a smartphone. In this way, it can enable all sorts of new user experiences that can connect the digital world to our physical environment. For instance, you can unlock your car with a wave of your phone.

Tylt is an NFC hardware manufacturer. The company recently partnered up with Y Combinator software startup Tagstand, an Android app, switched on by an NFC sticker and can activate all sorts of other apps to carry out tasks automatically.

A Tylt NFC tag on your nightstand can trigger your Tagstand to turn off alerts and activate the alarm. An NFC tag placed at your desk can tell your phone to open Evernote, tether your phone’s 4G to your laptop, mute your ringer, and remind you in 30 minutes to get off Twitter.

However, consumers are not quite familiar with NFC and don’t know what the technology can do for them. In other words, NFC tags have been a tabula rasa lacking the necessary consumer context. That’s why Tylt and Tagstand are refocusing a partnership around specific devices: a Bluetooth speaker and a phone dock, for example.

Some retailers make products better for consumers by narrowing their scope. Telling a consumer less things they can do with something could make them more apt to buy it (or at least understand it).

And maybe this is why the focus of NFC today has mostly been around payments, whether it’s Google Wallet or else. Maybe we do need a special speaker, phone dock, or wallet to make consumers begin to understand NFC, but hopefully those products will truly show the tech’s ingenuity.