What is Near Field Communication?

Near field communication (NFC) enables mobile and other devices to securely exchange radio communications with each other, either when they are touched together or brought in close proximity. The standards for NFC are based on existing radio-frequency identification (RFID) systems to allow two-way communication between devices, and essentially boils down to short-range wireless protocols that function similarly to Bluetooth, but with a highly secure transmission protocol. Common uses of NFC for commerce, social interactions, and security respectively include contactless transactions at stores, data and media exchange, and encrypted identity keycards — all accessible via mobile device. Google Wallet, for example, allows users to store credit card information on their NFC-enabled smartphone so that they can simply swipe their phone at a pay station and the purchase is instantly completed. Because NFC also enables users to share contacts, photos, videos, and audio files with each other by simply moving the mobile devices close together, it could become a powerful technology for seamless collaboration and the easy exchange of information and content.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • How to link digital data to physical objects effectively has been one of the great barriers to museum's fully exploiting the potential of supplementing or supplanting label copy with digital resources. QR codes, for the most part, don't work. NFC is one way to create the kind of seamless, invisible interface needed to deliver location-specific digital content in user-friendly ways. - elizabeth.merritt elizabeth.merritt Oct 31, 2014
  • I think this one could be a sleeper than ends up affecting the day in-day out life of museums and museum visitors way more than a lot of the other stuff here. I don't hear too much about it, but I do think it has huge practical and useful ramifications. Museum people hate QR codes. If NFC can invisibly achieve the same goals on a bring-your-own device thingy, and if it can work for a decade before being rebuilt, this would be terrific! - weberj weberj Nov 3, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • It focuses on payment systems and social sharing. For the museum environment, it should explicitly cite the ability to use NFC beacons to broadcast information from objects. - elizabeth.merritt elizabeth.merritt Oct 31, 2014 + 1, or at least from LOCATIONS (objects may not need specific interpretation, depending on the installation). - dhegley dhegley Oct 31, 2014
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • Provides another tool for pushing location-specific content to users in ways that can be configured to take into account their interests and preferences. (That filtering would have to be added in at the user's end--settings on the related app, etc.)- elizabeth.merritt elizabeth.merritt Oct 31, 2014
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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