Near Field Communication, NFC for short, seems to be cropping up everywhere these days. It's been around for a while in bank cards and transport passes like the Oyster card, but now it's becoming just as common in smartphones, tablets and other gadgets.
So, why is it such a big deal? You could argue that with Bluetooth and WiFi, there are more than enough connection options around already. Well, the main difference with NFC is immediacy. Bluetooth and WiFi connections need some setting up before they can transfer information; NFC cuts all of this down to a 'tap'. This is what makes it so useful for making fast payments in busy shops. Some pundits even predict that our smartphones will one day take over from our wallets thanks to this technology.
Putting NFC into things like smartphones, tablets and cameras makes transfers as simple as holding compatible devices next to each other. It can also establish a Bluetooth or WiFi connection straight away for larger files and streaming.
The Beats Pill portable speaker is a great example of how even simple music playback can be streamlined with NFC. Traditionally a Bluetooth speaker would need to be made detectable before being paired with a phone or tablet. Think walking over, holding down that button, turning on your phone's Bluetooth, finding the right device, possibly entering a pass code, then pairing. Less than perfect for casual listening, this can become a real hassle at get-togethers where everybody wants to share their music. Using another NFC-enabled device, just tapping on the speaker is enough to start the stream.
NFC-enabled cameras work in a similar way. Samsung's NX300 compact system camera and the Panasonic TZ40 - paired with the right apps - make near-instant photo backing-up and remote shutter release possible. Near-field camcorders like the Panasonic HC-V520extend this even further with remote shooting and live streaming.
Tie it all together
To tie all of these features together calls for a well-equipped NFC-enabled device.The Nexus 7 is a smart choice with an easily portable design and HD display. Or, if more flexibility is need, the ASUS PadFone 2 blends a smartphone with tablet docking for easy small-to-big screen transitions.
It's still early days for NFC around the home but with major manufacturers announcing its integration into everything from TVs (Sony) to ovens and rice cookers (Panasonic),it's going to be come much more commonplace soon.