By Imran Khan
This week’s technology pick is something that is a little quiet in South Africa. We have not seen the concept being adopted by consumers yet. Yes, we are speaking about “Near Field Communications”, which represents the next level in wireless local communication.
As technology evolved over the years we saw the advancements made in local communication technology, starting off with the humble “Infrared” transmission, which hung on for some time, but it was only able to transfer basic information between devices and did not have good signal range.
Of course this was superseded by Bluetooth, which gave us the freedom to share a variety of content between devices easily, up to a distance of 10m in some cases. The biggest spin off for Bluetooth was the headsets market.
Mobile device manufacturers are working on getting Near Field Communication (NFC) going as the next big step. In most Smartphone devices if you remove the battery cover you can actually see a flat antenna stuck to the cover surface.
This flat antenna allows your Smartphone to communicate with similar devices by simply touching them together or bringing them close to each other.
The biggest achievement in South Africa is the NFC music players. Basically, this consists of just a speaker unit with NFC plate.
By simply placing your Smartphone on it, it springs to life. This is a handy new take on the docking station made famous by Apple, using no cables and no plugs.
The bigger picture and reason why this technology was created was to eliminate credit cards and payment systems that are unsafe. In the near future, once NFC fully takes off, we would be looking at paying for items at perhaps the local shop using just our Smartphones. Ideally, this payment method will roll out to everything from airports to train stations as well; making paying for these services so much more safe and simple.
It works on the premise that almost everyone on the continent will soon have a Smartphone which they carry with them almost all of the time.
The downside to this is that if you lose your phone, or if your battery dies, you probably can’t do any transactions. This is a bit of a worry and is probably what is holding back the advancement of this super cool technology. We are keeping a close eye on it and will keep you posted on any new developments.