In a bold move, Google ditched QR and Barcodes in favour of NFC (Near Field Communication). What does that mean for the future of online/offline integration?
QR codes have been widely discussed in the event industry for the capability to perform online actions offline. Services such as Likify give a great deal of tangibility to otherwise lost in translation opportunities. As event professionals, we love that.
It happened before with Flash
Now bear with me. Apple recently ditched Flash for good in favour of HTML5. That caused lots of turmoil in the Interwebs as when a major player makes such a decision, many will feel the impact.
Well, I think we can state the same has happened for QR Codes and NFC.
What is NFC?
I’ve looked at the Wikipedia definition but it sounds too techie for us. Therefore I am gonna quote ReadWriteWeb, who firstly blogged about NFC and its use:
NFC, which stands for “near field communication,” is a wireless technology that enables data exchanges over short distances. It’s the backbone of Google’s (reportedly in development) mobile wallet initiative with MasterCard and Citigroup.
It’s also the technology Google has been testing with its Hotpot program, a Yelp-like service that encourages local customers to rate and review their favorite restaurants, bars, shops and other local businesses. Now in its pilot phase, Hotpot merchants and business owners in Portland, Oregon have been provided with NFC-enabled window decals which would, when tapped with an NFC-enabled handset (or activated by waving the phone near the sticker), would link to the business’ Places page.
How does that differ from QR Codes?
When we think of our customers it gets down to ease of use.
QR codes involve pointing the camera to the code and then being redirected to a website or to an action. Lara summed it up quite well here.
On the other hand NFC looks like a more interactive technology and the technicalities are left to the backend. Shaking the phone or simply tapping will result in actions.
In terms of security, NFC is a much more secure avenue for monetary transactions, while QR Codes seem to be only an engagement tool.
How can NFC be used at events?
Payments and ticketing
I have been thinking about the potential uses of NFC for events and I found this great article by Gary Marshall that points out how ticketing is number one item on the agenda.
When thinking about major events and crowd management, speeding up payments is a must. If we also consider the fact that the most profitable event technology to date is ticketing, NFC looks like a great solution.
NFC is a much better alternative to QR codes as far as live response is concerned. Services such as Shakespeak will benefit from the quick and easy interaction without loading the Wifi or the phone network.
Companies such as Hypertag already offer products in this sense and if wisely used with a fair level of engagement, good results can be achieved.
What is next?
The fact Google has stepped in this direction means that Android will. Since Android owns a humongous market share in handheld devices you would expect adoption to skyrocket.
Therefore get ready, read a lot and start playing with NCF.
Photo by Ti.mo