Over the past 30 years, technology has fundamentally changed the way in which humans interact with the physical world and its digital extension. Plain text on green screen monitors gave way to colorful icons, and keyboards and mice evolved into intuitive touchscreens. On Tuesday, Apple announced a new payments platform, called Apple Pay, and three new mobile devices – the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus, and the Apple Watch – that incorporate Near Field Communication (NFC) technology and represent the potential to eventually reshape how we share, learn, and make decisions.
The two new smartphone models and inaugural smartwatch will include NFC technology as a standard connectivity feature, alongside WiFi and Bluetooth. Apple joins Google Android, Microsoft Windows Phone, and BlackBerry in enabling short-range wireless technology to make simple and secure wireless payments with a touch of the phone or watch to a contactless payment terminal. While Apple will likely share the details of its NFC implementation in the coming days and weeks, NFC is already used today to intuitively pair and share with other consumer electronics and instantly interact with millions – and potentially billions – of smart tags connected to everyday items.
It’s no secret that Apple has a way of capturing the imagination of technology enthusiasts around the world. As a result, the company’s endorsement will likely serve as a catalyst for the development of new and exciting applications based around the simplicity and user friendliness inherent in NFC technology.
Apple’s support for NFC adds significant momentum to this fast-growing technology. According to industry analyst IHS Technology, over 400 million NFC-capable devices will ship in 2014, up from 275 million shipments in 2013. With more than a billion NFC-enabled mobile devices in use by 2015, Apple’s endorsement of NFC makes it ubiquitous on major smartphone platforms. Ongoing support from industry leaders in consumer electronics, financial services, semiconductors, transportation, and mobile app development makes for a thriving ecosystem.
The NFC Forum, where Thinfilm serves as a Principal member, provides industry-wide technical and market momentum by bringing together household names from multiple critical industries, including Samsung, Visa, Intel, Qualcomm, and many others.
Like Apple, Thinfilm supports NFC technology as a logical next step in enhancing wireless interactivity in a mobile-first world. As smartphones and tablets become hubs for work, play, and learning, NFC-enabled smart objects can combine with the cloud-based identity management services available through our partnership with EVRYTHNG to allow consumers to verify product authenticity, retrieve relevant and timely information and special offers, and even monitor the status of low-cost sensors integrated directly into products and product packaging.
New technologies create new opportunities, and thanks to Apple’s endorsement of NFC, we look forward to an accelerated deployment of smart, contextual wireless systems that will allow mobile-first consumers to take advantage of what’s possible when the power of the digital domain is literally a touch away.