Notes on A Librarian’s Field Guide to Near Field Communication (NFC) #PLA12

From the start Kristen Yarmey, the digital services librarian from the University of Scranton, said that what she will be talking about wasn’t necessarily out there yet. They were just going to talk about what it was and it’s future capabilities.

I almost left right then, but I was intrigued.
All of their slides can be found at:

NFC is a way for devices to exchange information wirelessly at close range. (Close range meaning within 2 inches)
Her example was seeing an ad for popcorn and when you ‘tap’ your phone, a coupon will find it’s way on your phone.

There is an indicator (phone) and a target (in example, smart poster). A small magnetic field comes from the phone and the NFC tag in the poster will recognize it and communicate with it. The tags are very versatile and can be put in key fobs, posters, stickers, gravestones….anything.

NFC vs QR codes:
complementary not competing

(there is a chart on slideshare; link above)

NFC- can look like anything vs the ugly QR codes that Kristen said are sometimes called ‘robot barf’.

They can give more data. QRs can only handle 7,000 characters where NFCs can handle I think up to 2MB.

NFCs do data exchange; communicate both ways

Some NFCs are rewritable

NFC technology is still being explored as far as possibilities go, but QR codes…it’s done.

There can be a transfer between a sales terminal and a phone and between two smart phones much like Bluetooth or wifi. Difference? Although Bluetooth can go longer distances and is faster at transferring mass data, it’s a pain to set up.

Some cool examples were this speaker that uses NFC and you can play music on your phone and ‘tap’ the speaker and it will play the music AND a faster way to transfer photos just by tapping computer with phone.

Sheli Elizabeth McHugh, a cataloging and metadata librarian from the University of Scranton, talked about it’s uses.

-Mobile payment
-Coupons, deals and receipts transferred with payment
– colleges and hotels using phones as keys
– locks for homes
– Mobile marketing with posters
– authentication like for company equipment
– ‘tap’ on car lock to receive diagnostics and use to help find car
– easier transactions in libraries for fines and copies
– NFC may also replace library cards
– instantly register for events or join groups
– instantly friend, like, checkin, update status
– touch two phones back to back and instantly friend or see similar interests in social media profiles
– secret levels in games

By this point, at 2:30pm, I got a tad bored with the list of all the things that could be possible but aren’t yet. I stepped out and went to exhibits, only to make a wide arch and walk back out. It is definitely not made for students. I went back and it was Q&A. That was a bust as well. It was all pretty much theoretical, but the attendees kept asking for specifics and they couldn’t answer and the askers would seem frustrated. I felt it rippling through the audience as well, even after the warning in the beginning. I didn’t agree with the tension, so I left again and went for ice-cream. 🙂

I liked the presenters and it was nice to know a little about the technology so when/if it comes around we won’t be completely in the dark.


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