back to article You thought NFC tags were Not For Consumers? Well, they're in Maplin's

High street retailer Maplin will be stocking NFC tags, surely demonstrating that the technology is mainstream even if no one is quite sure what it's for. The tags, which  come from RapidNFC, are supplied in packs of twelve which retail at £9.99. That's a £1.70 premium on the manufacturers price of £8.29 but the manufacturer …

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I don't suppose...

NFC could be used to set phones to turn off, say in a Cinema or Theater?

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Re: I don't suppose...

The clue is in the "N". So not really.

Better idea, just set off an EMP while the ads roll.

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Re: I don't suppose...

could be done as a tag on the sign near the door on the way into the auditorium.

but a chain would probably just make it an html link to a page on their website reminding you to turn it off and that snacks and drinks are available in the foyer.

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Anonymous Coward

No.

The user would have to configure her device or install a custom app to provide this functionality.

Otherwise it would be a bit of a security risk that third parties were able to control handsets remotely and at will?

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Facepalm

I suppose if you have some sort of hobby that involves bits of kit being lent out on a regular basis this might have some use there somewhere but like most things, could end up being tech for tech's sake.

I could put them inside my young kids clothes so I can find them when they claim they have no idea where the hell they've left them this time?

"Where's your jumper/shoes/PE kit?"

Cue blank expression from said child!

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Hmmm, security patrols?

In a former workplace the overnight security guards were supposed to take a walk round the building every so often. Dotted round the place were some sort of tags, and when they did their rounds they carried a reader with them that recorded the time each tag was visited. NFC could replace the daily or weekly download with realtime, and result in a call ("Do you need an alarm clock or assistance?") or visit in case of missed.

Also geo-caching without suspicious looking boxes in public areas.

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Anonymous Coward

I wrote this in a previous thread discussing NFC stuff...

I'll step in here. We use NFC about as much as anyone I know.

Firstly the content of this article. Several apps exist on google playthat allow the transfer of any file from device to device via NFC. As described in this patent you open the app, select a file and bump devices.

We also have NFC tags around our house, in the car and in my office. Each tag can be configured to make the phone touching it do upto around 20 functions. Things like volume, setting the alarm, turning wifi/Bluetooth/whatever on or off. You tell your phone what to do when it touches the tag, so each user can configure each tag to do whatever supported function(s) they desire.

For example on my phone:

bedroom tag - puts phone on silent and sets alarm if not already set.

Lounge tag - phone back upto full volume, wifi on if not already.

Car tag - phone upto full volume, bluetooth turns on, connects to bluetooth in car kit.

Office tag - turns wifi on if not already on and connects to office wifi

etc

My wife can set program her phone to do what she wants, I set my phone to do what I want. It's actually pretty decent. Yes as early adopters we were sort of "looking for things we could do". The wife works in the mobile phone industry and i'm in IT so we were both curious. I'm not claiming it's life changing but it's a good indicator that NFC will be used for more things in the future.

Our local Library (post refit) now uses NFC to track/lend/return all books. You just scan your card, dump books into a booth on the way in/out and it checks the books in/out using NFC.

That's just what we use NFC for with the limited amount of toys/apps available currently.

I honestly don't get why so many fellow geeks deride this. It's in V1 still basically. Further uses will crop up down the road. Our local library is now fully NFC based for borrowing/returning books. Works brilliantly.

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Anonymous Coward

"Our local library is now fully NFC based for borrowing/returning books. "

I have a home collection of over 2000 books - and an awful lot of DVDs. Having a computerised keyword/title database is simple. There are several ways to organise any particular item - and the shelves get re-organised every so often as the emphasis changes or new books are added. So a it needs a label for each item that doesn't depend on a fixed position. Running a NFC phone along the likely shelves would be a good way of locating an identified book whose spine has no visible title, is faded, or hard to read. However the tag price would have come down by a factor of 10 first.

A more error prone alternative would be NFC readers in each shelf so a book could be registered by a bonk as it is put there.

...and no - most of the the library contents aren't available as digital files.

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Anonymous Coward

Running a NFC phone along the likely shelves

I think the operation would me more like

<bonk book> wait 5 secs ... no.

shift left

<bonk book> wait 5 secs ... no.

shift left

I can read the titles on the spines faster.

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short range is good, but...

There have been reports of longer than expected ranges in payment card situation. Something to be wary of.

In the case of that mobile phone holder on a car, I would think of where I put the phone when I left the car. Maybe a card with NFC and useful written details slipped into whatever pocket I use.

But my mobile doesn't use NFC.

I can imagine uses for the tech in hospitals, but they are not yet electronic enough. If staff used tablets for record keeping, tagging the patient could work well. And it could be more awkward if you have to wave a gadget near a patient's wrist when now you just have to ask for the name.

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Re: short range is good, but...

"Smart" patient tagging has been available for quite a few years now. While asking a patient's name is the correct, human, way to interact with a patient waving a reader at their wrist does not dehumanise the interaction, instead it's both a labour saving action (as the patient's records can be automatically looked up) but also reduces the likelihood of mis-identification (e.g. multiple "J Smiths"). Anything that double checks a patient's identity to reduce the incidence of potential very unpleasant, or fatal, mistakes is generally a good thing.

However (passive) NFC is hampered greatly by the wireless signal being blocked by common things such as water (and humans consist of a lot water) and the short range range.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: short range is good, but...

There have been some reports, but I've not seen a credible one, it's just that the burden of proof is on the banks to prove the person alleging miss-use or malfunction is incorrect and most of them never bother, it's just easier that way.

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Re: short range is good, but...

Water does not have a great effect on NFC. NFC uses a magnetic field not EM waves (think transformer coupling rather than radio waves). This explains both the short distance it can communicate and how it can transmit sufficient energy to power a micro-controller (NFC can do a lot more than simply read tags). UHF tags use EM waves and so can be read at a long distance, however the energy transmitted is so weak that they can only respond with an ID.

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Re: short range is good, but...

Asking a patient's name is fine if the patient is in a fit state to answer. For that reason, patients have always worn name tags in hospital, though in the past they would be hand written tags.

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Looking forward to mine

Samsung ran a promotion at the end of last month with all new NFC phones: everyone gets a carkit, some covers and a "tec tile" - RFC sticker to do with as you please. Not sure if I move around enough to want a profile switch but I'm looking forward to seeing what is possible. Personally, I like the idea of an NFC and code -based lock system (something you have and something you know) for things like car-sharing.

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One use I've found for NFC

I've set up my phone so that if I tap my Oyster card on it, it loads up an app that tells me how much money is left in it. Probably it would be quicker to just tap the icon on screen though.

What I would really like to do is to be able to load my Oyster card onto the phone, and tap my phone on the gate to get in and out of the station. Apparently that will be possible at some point in the future.

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Re: One use I've found for NFC

The apps can't read the encrypted data on the Oyster card, so all they do is get the card number & then connect to the Oyster website to get the balance. You don't actually need the card or NFC to do that, the app could just ask you to enter the card details as part of the setup. Like much of NFC, this is just a gimmick.

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Def
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Re: One use I've found for NFC

Here in Norway I already buy my monthly train/bus ticket through an app on my phone. If the conductor ever comes around (which is rare because 75% of the carriages on the trains are for prepaid tickets with no conductors) I just load up the app and shove it in his/her face.

No need for NFC, because there are no pointless barriers preventing people from getting on to trains/busses in the first place (and therefore nothing preventing them from escaping in an emergency either).

As an aside, if you happen to live in Tallinn and are registered as a resident there, all public transport is completely free, which is even better. :)

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Re: One use I've found for NFC

Thats the Oyster cards problem. The system could write in the clear to a read only space on the card - should there be room -, like many NFC ticketing solutions do already. Or you go all the way and replace the card with NFC phones. http://bit.ly/18AGmRh. And when I say "you" I mean "large government bureaucracy with billions of dollars already invested in a public ticketing system"

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Re: One use I've found for NFC

Berlin has a scheme where most U- and S-bahn Stations have nfc tags, for when they don't, you can clock in based on location info from your phone. It even chooses the cheapest combination of individual fares for you. Per day. Fuck week- of even month-long time based tickets. Which is where it gets affordable. And the web site to sign up for it crashed before I could complete the process every time I tried. Not very confidence-inspiring, really. There's a world of possibilities here, but the way it sits right now, it's just bollocks.

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wifi access an

How about a tag on the counter at the coffee shop. "tap" the tag to get the access code for free wifi.

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Re: wifi access an

How long would it last before someone replaces it with their own tag which instead gives a password for the ad-hoc network on their laptop at the back of the coffee shop, from where they slurp your contacts list and load up a trojan?

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Re: wifi access an

How about a tag on a café table?

Your phone sends the café a text message to say you want some service?

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Re: wifi access an

>How long would it last before someone replaces it with their own tag

My understanding from el Reg is that this is already happening with QR codes.

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Anonymous Coward

I could stick one on the bog roll dispenser.

And have it email me after an elapsed time to tell me I've left it in the shitter again.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I could stick one on the bog roll dispenser.

That'll teach you to snap selfies while you're on the bog. Leave the phone in your pocket & you'll have no problems.

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FAIL

If I could get from Maplin a NFC reader with the ability to switch a relay then these tags could be used as a key.

Otherwise they're pretty seriously limited to the average DIY Maplineers.

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Anonymous Coward

"Key"

There are plenty of secure wireless entry systems already on the market.

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