NFC Forum goes public
In addition to the press release above, NFC Forum also released a FAQ. Though, I have to say, I would far prefer a HTML-formatted FAQ than crappy PDF. But hey, this is good old-school engineering and not that Web 2.0 hippie crap ;-). Unfortunately, the real technical specs aren't quite out there yet. But one thing at a time...
Simply put, under all the marketing lingo the aim of Near Field Communication is rather simple: to mobile devices easier to use. Want to use a new Bluetooth headset with your phone, but can't figure out the pairing? Just turn on the headset, and touch the two together. Let the device worry about all the details. Want to send a picture to your TV set? Just touch your digital camera to the TV set, and watch the blinkenlichts go and your picture appear. See an interesting thingy advertised on the street? Just touch the logo, and your device will figure out how to get connected to their web site. Want to pay with a credit card? Wave your phone at the reader, and type in the PIN code.
I know some of the examples quoted in the FAQ sound cheesy, but that's what always happens with new technology. The geeks who dream up this sort of stuff usually have little idea as to where their invention ends up - it might be in a forgotten dumpster in a lost city, or it might be in the Hall of Fame. Who's to know?
In fact, NFC is not really new either. It's built on existing technologies (ISO 14443A,B and ~FeliCa, each of which has an install base counted in tens of millions), and all sorts of interesting things have been out there for a while. The cool thing is that now there is at least one standard, and people don't have to make their own, proprietary solutions anymore.
For me personally, the single greatest thing about Near Field Communication is its inherent hackability. The technology is pretty versatile, open and cheap - perfect for lone guys in their garages to do interesting stuff with. While there is a big payment industry out there that screams "waaaa" and waves their tiny hands up in the air whenever anyone mentions hacking, there is lots of room for the little guys as well. Just not in the payment stuff.
I have great hopes. There are people already looking into this stuff, such as Timo Arnall and his Touch project at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (note: it's not a technology school. NFC is far too interesting to be owned by technologists, in my humble opinion.)
(Disclaimer: I'm deeply involved in NFC Forum's work. In fact, I am the editor of several of the specifications... So blame me.)
Update 19-Jun-06: there's now a HTML version of the FAQ online.
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