Samsung today announced TecTiles, its new programmable NFC stickers. The TecTiles can be programmed using the TecTile programming app for Android. Once programmed, the TecTiles will become small NFC activators that can tell any NFC smartphone to perform an action such as sending a text message, setting an alarm, or silencing the phone.
“With millions of NFC-enabled Samsung Galaxy smartphones currently in the market and the arrival of our flagship device Galaxy S III, Samsung saw an opportunity to expand the value of NFC beyond mobile payments,” said Dale Sohn, president of Samsung Telecommunications America. “The launch of Samsung TecTiles is another example of Samsung’s ability to innovate new products and applications that improve the way we use our mobile devices for everyday tasks.”
Sohn might have a point. Discussion of NFC technology has mostly centered around using it to pay for things in stores, yet the technology has the capability to do much more. Part of the reason for this is that NFC is not widespread in the smartphone market. Though most high-end Android smartphones have had the technology for over a year, Apple has not yet embraced NFC. Things are looking up, though, and rumor is that Apple will incude NFC in the iPhone 5. When that happens, the technology will finally take off, which is what Samsung is betting on.
The scope of what TecTiles can enable is quite impressive. First, any phone settings can be changed including volume settings, screen brightness, and Wi-Fi settings. Phone calls can be initiated, text messages can be sent, and Google Talk chats can be started. TecTiles can enable different actions for social networks including Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and LinkedIn. They can be used to give directions, contact information, or open web pages.
The TecTiles can be reprogrammed as many times as needed using the Android app, however locking a TacTile with the "Lock TecTile" option prevents it from ever being reprogrammed, even by the original programmer.
With a little creativity and tweaking, the uses for TecTiles could be quite inventive. One pasted near the front door of a home could enable a "home mode" where the phone's ringer volume is louder, Wi-Fi is connected, and the phone controls a Bluetooth stereo. One on a desk at work could enable a more quiet, professional mode. A TacTile could be stuck on a business card with Facebook page, Twitter feed, LinkedIn profile, and other contact information. Of course, this last idea assumes the person given the card has and uses NFC. Luckily, with Samsung obviously invested in the technology, and Apple beginning to embrace it, NFC should soon be ubiquitous.