Tuesday, March 22, 2011

NFC, QRCodes and the Skyway system

Today's post will just be a quick overview of a Near Field Communication based project I have been brainstorming on but can't get the resources to do it.  I figure I'd at least put my idea out there for anyone that may have the resources to try taking a stab at (or you could hire me on as a designer).  Here's a link to my Springpad shared folder on NFC related notes.

What is Near Field Communication (NFC)?  NFC is a very new and upcoming data transfer protocol.  It uses close proximity to transmit data between two NFC type devices (one a client and one a reader/writer/broadcaster module).  Basically NFC lets you tap your device on a reader to then instantly transfer and exchange data.  The biggest potential for NFC is in the retail and mobile payments world.

NFC is still very new and in turn has not been implemented in many things yet.  However we are finally starting to see the newer high end smartphones adding this new communication protocol to their devices (ie Galaxy S, Nexus S, etc).

My idea revolves around the pairing of several newer technologies: GPS, QRCodes and NFC.  I live in Minneapolis, MN and work downtown and in turn use the Skyway system to get between buildings when its not very nice out.  I believe the Skyway system could greatly benefit from the implementation of NFC and QRCodes.

Currently, I have discovered that a company SkywayApps has just released a GPS based app for the iPhone/iPad that lets you access a map of the skyway system and show your location and how to get to several businesses located near the skyways.

This app basically is what I have been looking to implement however I wanted to also add NFC and QRCode technology into the mix.

NFC could be utilized in the skyway system at the main Skyway maps that are located throughout the system.  My thought was to have a NFC reader on the lower left corner of the map with a very obvious Arrow to "Tap Here".  A user would then take their NFC equipped smartphone and Tap on the Map itself to then pull a local listing of the businesses in that 30foot radius.  This would basically be a redirect to a web app/page that would list all businesses and their hours and contact information.

At the same time, the same Skyway map could use a QRCode in the upper left corner of the Map and when the QRCode is snapped; the user could then hover over the map w/their camera on the phone to then overlay their location on the map.  GPS does not work very well inside and this could really help triangulation / GPS lock  on times.  Another potential could be to use QRCodes for each businesses that works w/the Skyway maps vendor/advertiser to then add QRCodes to business cards or storefronts.  Users could then snap the QRCode that could in turn add the GPS location and Store information to their address book or send them an email with the info.

Finally, NFC could then be utilized at each of the businesses that sign up to be included in the directory to then allow their customers to instantly Check-In to the business's FourSquare place.  No more waiting for GPS lock again!  Foursquare, in my opinion, is the next big marketing/advertising love child of the web 3.0.

This is just a very basic example of what can be done w/NFC and QRCodes.  The biggest selling point of this project is not necessarily the complexity of the technology but more of the "First!" to implement and in turn the PR and buzz that could be generated from such a project and the attention it could in turn bring to the Minneapolis downtown area.

Your thoughts on NFC?