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You thought NFC tags were Not For Consumers? Well, they're in Maplin's

If anyone knows what they're for, it's High Street Geek Dad

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High street retailer Maplin will be stocking NFC tags, surely demonstrating that the technology is mainstream even if no one is quite sure what it's for.

The tags, which  come from RapidNFC, are supplied in packs of twelve which retail at £9.99. That's a £1.70 premium on the manufacturers price of £8.29 but the manufacturer doesn't have a high street presence: so one is paying for convenience as well as the technology. It's for when one just wants some NFC tags right now.

Just what would drive such a requirement is far from obvious, however. RapidNFC is best known for embedding tags into beer mats and other equally innovative concepts. Near Field Communications can do many wonderful things: pay-by-bonk, Bluetooth pairing, electronic ticketing and identifying Disney figurines, to name just a few. Nonetheless the killer application remains elusive - as demonstrated by Apple's ongoing disdain for the technology.

Maplin does make some attempt to justify the product, pointing out that it's compatible with most modern smartphones (iPhone excluded) and that free  applications are available for programming and using tags. Those applications generally launch specific profiles, such as switching to nighttime mode when placed on the (tagged) nightstand, or trigger an action using the browser or similar. Some of this is useful, but none of it seems likely to make anyone rush out to buy an NFC phone. Or, in most cases, buy any tags.

Even so the introduction of NFC to Maplin is what advocates have dreamed of. The argument for NFC has been that hackers and hobbyists will find uses for it once it is in their hands, and as those demographics definitely intersect with Maplin's customer base that day has surely arrived.

Now we have to wait and see what they can come up with. ®

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