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- - - - -

Got NFC? What are you doing with it?


NFC is here. The Nexus S has it. The Galaxy Nexus has it. Some Galaxy S IIs have it. The forthcoming Xperia products are going to have it. But the thing is, what are you going to do with it? This is the dilemma that hit me when I got my Galaxy Nexus. I had a Nexus S previously and just didn't use NFC, but I figured I must be missing out... so I started having a play.

The first thing I tried was hacking on a copy of Google Wallet, which worked great - to a point. I managed to get everything working and redeem my free $10 prepaid Google Card, but then, since i'm in the UK, that was the end of the fun - no way to top up.

The second thing I tried was beaming stuff between devices over NFC, which works well too - but that gets dull very quickly.

The third thing I tried (after a tip from Arne at theUnwired), was scanning my NFC enabled passport. For this I used NFC TagInfo and the PassportImageDecoder plugin. Nice, I can see a bunch of information about myself and even my passport picture! :D Again - this got boring quite rapidly!

Where NFC really starts to get interesting is with your own writable tags. Sony plan to exploit this on their new range with their SmartTags, but rather than paying £14.99 for 4 shiny ones, you can buy simple tags for less than a quid each. I bought 5 for £7.50 from nfc-supplies on Amazon, but they actually seem to be cheaper at RapidNFC (UK) or Chipwave (US). I'm currently using NFC Task Launcher to hook into my Tasker setup, and it's pretty cool. I'm just walking around the house looking for things I can automate with NFC tags.

Details of my setup after the break for news page readers...

This isn't as easy as it sounds, for a couple of reasons. First of all, the range is effectively 'touch on the tag', so you have to actively touch the tag to carry out the action. Secondly, NFC tags only have a 'touch' concept, they don't have an ability to see a tag both coming and going, they only have the arriving action. One issue where this manifested itself was where I was configuring a tag to turn on the car profile on my phone. I mounted the stick tag to the back of my Brodit mount, so when I slide it in, it activates various profile settings including enabling Bluetooth for the in car integration. Great, but when I take it out, it doesn't know i've left the car as it doesn't see that tag as 'going away'. The workaround in this instance was to detect the Bluetooth disconnection and switch out of car mode.

Another use I have found is that the range is just about good enough for me to stick a tag (antenna upwards) on the underneath of the top of the bedside table. This means that I can put the device down and it switches to 'night time' mode, pretty cool. I'm going to set it to wake out of that mode the first time the screen is turned on and the device is unlocked! :)

Finally, one other quirk of the tags - in Ice Cream Sandwich, the NFC events don't appear to be raised if the device is asleep / locked, which is a bit annoying... i'm going to see if I can 'patch that out'. :P

The main point of this post is that I would love to hear YOUR ideas for how to use the NFC abilities... what are you doing? What are you planning to do? Simply post in the comments below, or in the topic view if you prefer. Video demo of NFC Tag Launcher embedded below...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnqmyNEQPq0

About the author

PaulOBrien's Photo
Paul O'Brien founded MoDaCo in 2002 as a site focused on Windows Smartphones and has grown it since then by concentrating on providing a friendly community for both experienced and beginner mobile enthusiasts.

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12 Comments

NFC Task Launcher has a 'profiles' feature allowing it to recognise tags and perform enter AND exit actions. Personally I use tasker so handle it with variables but the profiles feature works well if you are swiping in and out of a place/situation.
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The only thing I have done so far is to use a tag to toggle my wifi and mobile date connections. I have a tag on my keys and use it when I leave the house to switch to mobile data, and then toggle back to wifi when I arrive back home. Not having to unlock the phone would make it slightly more useful though!

I used tasker to create the task and nfc task launcher to write it to the tag.

I also wanted to set-up the tag to toggle the pattern or pin lock, but failed completely. If anyone can help me with that I'd appreciate it.
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NFC Task Launcher has a 'profiles' feature allowing it to recognise tags and perform enter AND exit actions. Personally I use tasker so handle it with variables but the profiles feature works well if you are swiping in and out of a place/situation.

The profiles feature is for first touch and second touch yes, but not 'near tag' and 'away from tag' scenario (like in the car mount).

P
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I also wanted to set-up the tag to toggle the pattern or pin lock, but failed completely. If anyone can help me with that I'd appreciate it.

That's not going to work since you can't do anything with tags UNTIL you've unlocked...?

P
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That's not going to work since you can't do anything with tags UNTIL you've unlocked...?

P


Whilst at home, I wanted to turn the lock
screen off completely and then activated it as I leave. You can use widget locker, but then your restricted to just having the slide unlock, rather than anything secure.

Just found this....

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They changed it in ICS to not work until unlocked.

P
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Deleted....!
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I wrote a credit card reader that can read the EMV application on paypass and paywave cards. Just need to find an internet payment processor and ill be able to use my phone as a payment terminal.
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Photo
TwoGunTurtle
Feb 03 2012 01:47 PM
I love the idea of profile switching. Rapid NFC do a key fob. Not a perfect solution, but you could have a key fob on your keys which you can use when you get out of the car/house to switch your profile back to 'out & about' from car etc.

The unlocked issue is a pain. What do you think Paul, is that a tricky hack - could it find it's way in to MCR for Galaxy Nexus? Posted Image
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I used some nfc disc's I got from rfidshop to place them around my life i.e. car work home and even the shed to switch basic function on or off and to place the phone on silent or not. People at look are now getting used to me holding my phone up to the notice board at work lol <_<
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Timesheet NFC Addon is an app that can control Timesheet, a time management app. The idea is you keep track of how much time you spend on a job. Good for contractors. I might use it to keep track of how much time I spend in front of my various screens :P

For payments there is PayPal and Bitcoin Wallet that I know of.
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I'd like to resurrect this thread given I've just got some NFC Tags and also because Paul and others (AOKP incl) have managed to fix NFC with Screen Off so this opens up the possibilities again.

As I mentioned to Paul on Twitter I'm keen to see what we can do with some tasker integration. I'm thinking that using a tag to switch to home use would be easier than using location and save on battery in the first place.
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