Feeds

At last! A REAL use for NFC: Bonking butler bots and oven-puters

Control fridges, speakers, TVs, servers from a pocket-stroker fondle

The essential guide to IT transformation

CES 2013 Upstart wireless data-transfer tech NFC is finally coming to some interesting devices. Not smartphones or shopping tills but TVs, speakers, washing machines and fridges, thanks to LG and Sony.

LG announced this week at the CES tech extravaganza an NFC-equipped oven, fridge and robot vacuum-cleaner as part of its "Smart Thinq" range. Sony is pushing NFC into its Brava TVs, assorted speakers and a 1TB network server, enabling instant pairing with Xperia phones as well as opening the way for the truly connected home we've been promised for so long.

NFC - Near-Field Communications - is, to be blunt, slow radio communications over very short ranges, triggered when two devices are within proximity. One could bonk an NFC-capable mobe against a till to make a payment, for example, and all the necessary details are swapped over the air by radio.

Now the tech has moved on to allowing speakers to pair with music players and TVs to be instructed by another NFC device. To realise the potential one needs NFC in every electronic device and that's been very slow to happen.

Most of our credit cards have NFC chips embedded these days, and a handful of smartphones, but the focus has been on pay-by-bonk - authorising transactions by tapping or waving the card or phone over the till - not because that's technically easy but because it has the most obvious revenue stream to recoup the cost of the hardware.

But once NFC is established a number of options open up. The most basic is tapping a phone against a speaker or TV to route audio and/or video to that device; the actual media is routed over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, which are faster, and only the handshake is done over NFC. LG suggests a phone tapped against a cleaning robot can become the remote control for that droid, while a phone tapped against the fridge can present recipe suggestions based on what's in the appliance.

That depends on the contents being logged of course, which has always been the downfall in such innovations, but LG reckons barcode-reading software on a smartphone (aka an app that uses the built-in camera) makes that a lot easier until all the edible products have NFC-capable labels, and with NFC pairing the smartphone can become an extension of the fridge.

Which is what NFC is really about - enabling devices to easily and intuitively use features of other devices. LG's fridge has a screen, which is a disappointment really as the ubiquity of smartphones should make that redundant: it's a pointless replication of capabilities.

That's an accusation frequently aimed at the whole NFC and Internet-of-Things model, but connectivity is coming and once it gets into homes then the interesting innovations can start to happen. With LG and Sony so committed it shouldn't be long. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Déjà vu: Virgin Media jacks up broadband prices
Screw copper phone lines, we're UNIQUE, bleats telco
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
What's the nature of your emergency, Vodafone?
Oh, you've dialled the wrong number for ad fibs, rules ASA
EE network whacked by 'PDP authentication failure' blunder
Carrier is 'aware' of cockup, working on a fix NOW
ROAD TRIP! An FCC road trip – Leahy demands net neutrality debate across US
You crashed watchdog's site, now time to crash its ears
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?