CES 2008: NFC – Get or Send Info by Swiping Your Phone

I reported last month on Nokia’s trials with payment and ticketing in London using NFC technology and was thrilled to see some working demos up close at CES. There were 8 vendors there, including Nokia and Visa, and this is probably just a taste of things to come, as the possibilities for NFC applications are more numerous than the demos shown. But even this handful of applications is enough to change our daily lives. As Nokia is a primary driver of NFC technology, all of the demos used a NFC-enabled Nokia phone.

Innovision showed me how NFC enabled ‘smart’ tags embedded in posters could provide info to people passing by and touching the tags with their NFC phones. Examples of info could be movie times at theaters nearby; product info; or the best route to take from where you are currently by touching the destination stop.

Visa told me all about their mobile payment system that uses NFC phones. Using a virtual wallet application on your phone, you can store account info for your credit and bank accounts. That information is downloaded and updated over an encrypted wireless connection. Once you pay by selecting the account and touching the payment base, the payment process works the same as when you swipe your check or credit card. If you lose your phone, the Visa folks can remotely wipe your account info from your phone. Nokia/Visa is currently trialing this payment system globally.

Other applications include ticketing systems, vending machines, parking meters, product packaging, points of interest, or even access doors!

I was somewhat surprised that the NFC forum wasn’t more mobbed, because I see this technology as revolutionizing the way we come to view and use mobile devices.