Feeds

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

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

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

Business security measures using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.