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NFC Forum: We're not just about paying by bonk, you know

Special interest groups show other ways to make the tech pay

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Five new Special Interest Groups (SIGs) will promote the use of Near Field Communications as the panacea which can cure what ails ya, rather than the electronic-wallet tech it has become.

NFC is increasingly perceived as a pay-by-bonk technology, but has applications across industries, and the NFC Forum intends to remind everyone of that through the medium of five new SIGs which will work independently to tell the world how marvellous Near Field Communications is and try to ensure it lives up to that promise.

The focus on pay-by-bonk applications isn't accidental: processing payments, and vouchers, has an obvious revenue stream, so vouchers in particular have proved to be the killer application which is pushing NFC into handsets. However, only one of the SIGs will be concerned with promoting NFC as a pay-by-bonk technology.

Retail can gain from NFC in other ways, such as showing men what their clothes would look like hung on semi-naked models.

But the Retail SIG will be focused more on stock control, and working with packaging companies to find ways to get NFC built into the products.

The next SIG is pushing NFC applications in transport, selling Oyster-style schemes around the world so tickets can be wirelessly enabled, and/or downloaded onto an NFC-equipped handset, but the 'Forum wheeled out the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to talk about digital boarding passes and NFC tags for baggage.

Then there's a Healthcare SIG, showing the usual slides on managing diabetes (the most photogenic of long-term diseases), though diagnostic monitoring is perhaps better suited to Bluetooth 4 or Zigbee (which both have proper range and flexibility) NFC has a role in the top of pill bottles and elsewhere.

The last SIG is probably the most important, though one facing a significant challenge in getting NFC into Consumer Electronics. Just about every everyone agrees that having NFC in all our electronics would be a nice thing to have - being able to tap a phone onto a TV go show a video on the big screen, or a speaker to transfer the audio, but "nice to have" has never been enough to make it happen.

LG and Sony have embraced this vision, publicly at least, promising to throw NFC into everything from fridges to network storage with a view to seeing what happens when it's all bonk-enabled.

The changes reflect the fact that NFC itself doesn't really need promoting these days. Apple might not be on board but everyone else is busy making NFC kit and the standard is unstoppable now. All we need to work out now is what we're going to do with it, which is what the new SIGs are going to be working out. ®

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