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NFC: The Future of Touchless Technology

AUGUST 7, 2020| SpeedPro East Bay

You may have heard of NFC technology already, or you may be like most and haven’t heard about it at all. In that case, hopefully, this will help to clarify what it is exactly and how useful it can. NFC stands for Near Field Communication which allows people to interact with graphics without touching anything but their own phone device. For example, restaurants menus or exhibits can use NFC technology to directly connect. We’ve seen this in similar formats through Apple Pay and key card entry at office buildings and hotels.

This NFC technology is quickly growing especially with COVID-19 taking place and essentially placing touchless technology at the forefront.

DOES MY DEVICE HAVE NFC CAPABILITIES?

Unfortunately, not all phone devices are equipped with NFC capabilities but the newer models definitely do and the list of other devices is continuously growing. If you have an iPhone 6 or newer and Android/ Samsung devices then it can read the NFC tags through various free apps available.

However, if you have a newer iPhone model such as the iPhone XS and forward, they can read the NFC chip directly without having to download a third-party app. Because phone devices are constantly evolving, it’s only a matter of time before all phones will be NFC-enabled. It’s already estimated that about 73% of Apple smartphones support NFC at this point in time.

NFC GROWING

The NFC market was already growing rapidly due to the rise in popularity of cashless payments through Samsung Pay and Apple Pay. However, now with COVID-19 hitting hard, it’s more important than ever to focus efforts on touchless technology. The fewer surfaces that a person has to touch, the more comfortable they’ll be purchasing from you. The NFC market is projected to reach $47 billion by 2024 and there is expected to be 69.4 million NFC users by the end of 2020.

These numbers were projected before touchless technology became an essential part of conducting business so they are likely to be even higher.

QR CODES VS NFC

QR codes became increasingly popular but then the buzz went away and became a thing of the past. Like NFC technology, they enable users to access information by scanning the code through a mobile device. QR codes are scanned using the mobile device camera and send the info directly to your device wirelessly. The trouble with QR codes in the past was that you had to download an app to access this but now, most devices are enabled with QR code readers in the settings.

The number one thing that makes QR codes and NFC chips different from each other is the ability to change out the information. A static QR code cannot be changed unless you update the code and reprint the material. You can’t go in and fix the URL or the QR code image. If you opt-in for the dynamic QR code, this inserts a URL that you have the option to update regularly without having to reprint everything, however, it will require a subscription to a QR code generator.

NFC tags, on the other hand, have the ability to be reprogrammed repeatedly without the need to reprint or replace your graphic. They can also be programmed to change through the day automatically. For example, if your lunch menu needs to change over to your dinner menu at a certain time, it will change over without you needing to do anything. Just program it ahead of time and you’re all set.

WHY SHOULD YOU TRY NFC TAGS?

In the new world of a pandemic and everything needing to go touchless, there is no better time to get on board with touchless technology. Even pre-COVID, consumers have been looking for ways to make their lives easier in every way which is why tap to pay became so popular.

We’re especially seeing this in the restaurant industry today. Restaurants now instead of offering printed menus, they have the opportunity to offer touchless menus with QR codes and NFC. This helps to avoid the waste of disposable paper menus.  Whether it’s just to view the menu or to place a full order through your phone, touchless technology is promoting a whole new approach for the restaurant industry.

Not only restaurants can benefit from this technology. Touchless check-in, shopping, or guided tours are just a few possibilities. When museums open back up again this could be the perfect thing taking people from audio tours where they need a headset which multiple people have used before them, to NFC technology which delivers the audio tour straight to their phone where they can use their own device. This can also be implemented for use with interactive graphics. Printing a wall mural with an NFC chip installed discreetly behind the graphic allows people to hover their phone over the chip and takes them to somewhere new digitally through their mobile device.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to the use of NFC technology. This isn’t a new technology of course but the different ways that we can use it and get creative are rapidly evolving and shaping the new way we interact with each other and businesses.

SpeedPro East Bay wants to ensure that you are equipped with the correct signage and displays that will not only keep up with the uncertain times but also get you ahead of the curve and thinking ahead. If you would like to learn more about our NFC tag signage, visit our InfoLnkX page, give us a call at 510.974.7369, or request a consultation for more info.

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SpeedPro East Bay

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Ed Owens

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