Near field opportunity

Tim Kridel explores how Near Field Communications (NFC) is starting to gain traction in pro AV applications such as digital signage.

Add Near Field Communications (NFC) to the growing list of wireless technologies that AV pros should care about. Best known as an emerging way to facilitate cashless payments by having mobile phones act as wallets, NFC is slowly gaining traction in a wide variety of AV markets, from digital signage to museums.

With a range of just four to ten centimeters, the technology is designed for applications where users can get close enough to something, such as a display or kiosk, that its NFC chip can transfer information to the NFC chip in their mobile phone, or vice-versa.

“The National Gallery in London put them next to their paintings so you can get information about the artist," says Debbie Arnold, director of the NFC Forum trade association.

The NFC chip in a phone also could work with a smart poster’s or digital signage’s NFC chip to provide each passer-by with customised information. One possibility is digital menu boards in an airport fast-foot restaurant.

“They see a McDonald’s menu in Chinese,” Arnold says. “They touch that reader, and it translates to English.” So far, smart posters and digital signage are two of the most common NFC applications, gobbling up more than half of all NFC chips sold so far, ABI Research says.

Those applications’ share will grow to 70 percent by 2016, when ABI predicts the market will be worth $298 million. With chips currently selling for about $10 to $15 apiece, that’s a lot of installations.

To read the entire article as it appeared in March’s edition of InAVate, click the link to view our active magazine. READ MORE

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