Feeds

Who needs a million NFC tags?

Someone has bought them, but what for?

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Someone is planning a big slash into the Near Field market, bundling more than a million NFC tags with handsets over the next six months, according to tag supplier Identive.

The company has announced the order, placed by a "leading mobile handset manufacturer" which will put them into phone boxes to "enhance consumers' day-to-day mobile experience". Beyond that, Identive is only saying that the order will take six months to complete, and will be provisioned through the company's Smartag subsidiary, though the last detail is important, as Smartag already counts Google as a customer.

It's easy to imagine tags being dropped into boxes with an NFC handset, in the hope that end users will develop a practical application or two for the technology while the manufacturers still struggle to see what NFC is for.

Tags can be read, or (optionally) written to, by waving a handset nearby. Once read, the tag can launch an app on the phone, or visit a specific URL, and it's possible that the unnamed manufacturer intends to pre-program the bundled tags with links to its own services – but that would be technology just for the sake of it. More likely the tags will be write enabled and come with suggested uses and the hope that users will create their own.

It's not the first time this has been tried: Violet's Mir:ror did much the same thing for a PC, and is no longer with us. Thanks to the backing of Alcatel-Lucent Touchatag lingers on, but despite years of playing and €5,000 in prizes a month, it has not created a killer application.

Nokia has shown how NFC can be used to reroute a music stream by tapping a handset against a speaker, and one imagines that video will soon follow, but it's really hard to think of a good reason why one would want to program one's own tags.

Nokia's interest in NFC, and lack of obvious progress in proximity payments, would seem to make them the perfect customer for bundling NFC tags with handsets to see what customers do with them.

Smartag has, on the other hand, already supplied tags to Google, for Google Places, so there's already a business relationship there.

Apple is a nice thought, but giving technology to users to see what happens isn't the Apple way, and a million tags would seem insufficient for any iPhone 5 launch.

But whoever placed the order, it is obvious there will be a lot more NFC tags around over the next 12 months. Now we just have to think of something worth doing with them... ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.