Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is not mainstream. Indeed, the average consumer probably hasn't heard of it yet. But Google's going to give NFC and its new Hotpot service a push in Portland, encouraging local businesses and consumers to get involved.
On the NFC end of things, the plan involves Google Places Business Kits with NFC-enabled window stickers. These stickers, which say "Recommended on Google," are supposed to catch potential customers' eyes. Next, so long as an individual has a sufficiently advanced smartphone (like the new Nexus S), he or she will be able to find out more about the business by touching the phone to the sticker.
This is perhaps a bit of a stretch; once you're physically at a store, it doesn't take much effort to peer inside and figure out what's going on. Still, we'll see what happens.
As for the Hotpot operation, it's a more straightforward contest to get people using the service. A special Hotpot Jackpot site suggested, "Enter the Hotpot Jackpot contest and get started on your chance to win: Rate the places you know on Google using Hotpot, share recommendations with your friends, earn points. The more points you earn, the better your chances."
Then here's the key incentive: the top 30 raters will win dinner at a restaurant of their choice for between four and ten people, and the next 100 raters will win $100 debit cards.
More contest details are available here if any Portland-area readers decide to participate.