While many people believe, the use of these NFC tags is limited to Android Pay, Apple Pay, and small automation tasks like changing your phone’s settings, I believe it really depends on a person’s creativity. Therefore in this article, I have compiled a list of cool uses of NFC Tags. Let’s check those out.
Before we Begin
If you already know about NFC and NFC tags, you can skip this section, but if you don’t, it’s important to understand the technology in order to use it effectively. Here’s a Wikipedia version.
NFC (short for Near Field Communication) is a technology used to share data between two NFC supported devices, preferably kept at a distance of 4 cm or less. It’s similar to Bluetooth, however, unlike Bluetooth, there is no pairing process and you can also use NFC for Mobile Payments (like Android Pay).
To find out whether your smartphone supports NFC, you can either do a simple Google search or look up your Phone’s specs on GSMArena.
Another cool application of this technology is NFC Tags. They are widely available in various shapes, sizes, and memory. Usually, these Tags are not bigger than a coin and can hold around a few kilobytes of data. They are also rewritable which means you can use the same tags and program them to do whatever you want.
Also Read: NFC vs Bluetooth: What’s The Real Difference
Cool Uses for NFC Tags
1. Automate Sleep Mode With NFC
Using Apps like NFC Tools, you can program the NFC Tags to turn off Wi-Fi, turn off Bluetooth, activate silent profile, and open the alarm app for the sleep mode. And then place the ‘NFC tag’ near your bed.
I use this for two reasons, first, it saves battery and second it ensures a good night’s sleep. If you want, you can also program the NFC tag to toggle the setting in the morning. So when you wake up, you can revert the changes with a single tap. Not just that, there are plenty of other apps that you can use on your smartphone to use NFC tags to its full potential.
2. Set Kitchen Timers
I like to cook in the kitchen and one of the most important things is the timer function on the iPhone. Using an NFC tag in the kitchen greatly simplifies the process. I just need to tap the iPhone on the tag and the timer starts right away. You can check out this guide to learn more about it.
3. Run Siri Shortcuts on iPhone
Siri Shortcuts is probably one of my favorite features on the iPhone because it opens up the gate to so many new possibilities that are otherwise, out of the question. You can run those shortcuts automatically, simply with an external trigger such as NFC and it would execute the command flawlessly. For instance, you can set a shortcut to run and play your favorite film on Apple TV whenever you tap on the NFC tag that you’ve stuck to the TV cabinet.
Also Read: How to create a Custom NFC tag on an iPhone
4. Use NFC to Connect Bluetooth Device
Ever since the loss of the headphone jack, Bluetooth accessories have become quite common. But the problem with Bluetooth devices is the arduous pairing process, which often kills the mood. While many Bluetooth devices these days, have inbuilt NFC, in case yours don’t, you can fix that with NFC tags.
Apps like BT tag writer can store the pairing information in NFC tags and then placed the tags near speakers. Now when you want to play music just tap the tags and you are easily connected within seconds.
5. Pay Bills Using NFC
Although bill payment is a major function of NFC it still deserves to be included in this list, as it’s useful. There is no need to carry your purse, with NFC PayPass you can pay directly from your NFC enabled smartphone. And the best part is the merchant has no access to your credit card or bank account. If you have NFC enabled credit card, it’s even better, simply take the wallet out, wave the wallet over the pad, put the wallet back in the pocket.
There are many Stores in the US, Japan, and even India, that are now accepting NFC payment.
6. Track Your Car mileage
You can track your car mileage and calculate your budget with the help of the MyLog mileage logbook. This app work with NFC tags, which you can place in your car and calculate your daily cost and mileage of your vehicle.
7. Use NFC in Your Car
Program NFC tags to open Google Maps, turned on the Bluetooth, connect your phone to your entertainment system while turning off the Wi-Fi. And similarly, revert back to the changes before you leave the car.
8. Use NFC to Set Smart Alarm
If you struggle to get out of your bed, then try this. Using apps like Sleep as Android you can set an alarm that will only go OFF when you scan an NFC tag. Of course, it’s a good idea to place NFC tags away from your bed like in the bathroom or living area. On the next morning when the alarm goes off, you will have to get up from your bed and walk all the way to the NFC tag to turn it off. Another advantage of using the app is a smart alarm, which will wake you up when you are in your lightest sleep phase (by monitoring the phone’s accelerometers). Check it out.
9. Emergency Call/Text
If you have kids at home who can’t type yet or if you just wanted to know if your kids reached home safely, while you are at work. Then you can program NFC tags to send you a Mail/SMS on your number and then teach your child to just tap their home phone on the NFC tag. There are several apps that you can use to program NFC tags, we’ll cover them shortly on TechWiser.
10. Use NFC To Call Mom
Moving on, I am sure you love your mom but often forget to call her. Well, you don’t have to wait till mother days to call her. Simply program NFC tags to make calls to your loved ones and then keep the tag near the Photo Stand or Fridge or something. So the next time you see their picture, all you have to do is wave your phone over it and there you go.
11. Foursquare checking
Wouldn’t it look cool when if your customer can directly update foursquare check-ins by just tapping their smartphones to your menu card or the reception desk? For detail check out this article on how to create an NFC tag for Foursquare check-ins. Alternatively, if you own a small business, you can still use NFC tags to ask your customers for reviews on Google Maps.
12. Leave Secret Message
Useful when you want to leave a note to your friend but don’t want to make it public by writing it on a piece of paper. Simply, program your NFC tags with your ‘secret message’ using apps like NFC Writer and then send the NFC tag, to your friend or hide it someplace private. You can also record your voice message and store it in your NFC tags.
13. Organize junks with NFC tags
If you have too many boxes in your house and you don’t want to open each one of them to see what’s inside, then you can use NFC tags to store its index and stick it on the box. Of course, you can also write it down on a piece of paper, but then everyone can see it and it won’t be as much fun. Overall, this can be very helpful when you are moving houses.
14. Connect/Disconnect Wi-Fi
I used it while working on projects that require good focus, and I don’t want to get distracted by WhatsApp or Facebook notification.
I have programmed my NFC tags to toggle Wi-Fi so when I need to concentrate on some task, I place my phone over the NFC tag to turn off Wi-Fi and when I complete my tasks, I placed it back again to come back to normal mode. You can also use it at your house door or near your bed.
15. Share Wi-Fi without sharing Password
Much like iOS, the latest Android Q will let you share your WiFi without sharing the password. But until then, you can use NFC tags for your guests.
Apps like InstaWiFi lets you share your Wi-Fi password through NFC. Or if you don’t want to ask your friend to install an app then you can just write down your Wi-Fi password on the NFC tag and place it near your Router. Now at least you won’t have to tell them the password.
16. Start Tasker task
We love the Tasker here at Techwiser. In case, you don’t know what Tasker is, well, it’s an Android app that lets you automate Android’s task-based on location, profile, and apps. It’s so powerful that it let you create your own application with Tasker without doing any coding. And later you can trigger these tasks with NFC tags using the trigger application.
For example, you can create a tasker task, to pushes your current tab in chrome to your computer. And set the trigger with the NFC tags. So, here’s how it gonna look like, simply walk to your computer, tap the tag, and resume whatever you were looking at on your phone to the bigger screen. Pretty cool?
17. Unlock your door
NFC can be put to great use for tasks like locking and unlocking your door. For example, you can use Lockitron to unlock your door by just tapping your device on it. The best part is, it doesn’t need wiring your door and works with home Wi-Fi, and need an AA battery for power.
18. Start PC With Your Smartphone
Another cool application of NFC is booting your PC using NFC (Wake on LAN). Simply, wave your smartphone on your laptop both under the same network. This is done by sending data packets from smartphone to laptop using NFC over the LAN. Here is a good article on how to get it done.
19. NFC enabled loyalty cards
Like I said before NFC doesn’t have to be limited to phones or mobile payment. There is a limitless possibility with NFC, one such is loyalty cards. NFC loyalty cards can be used to track customer preference, offer him discounts.
And since they can understand customer’s buying schedules, we can use this to serve better Advertisements and promotional offers. This technology will not only make customer life better but also benefit the advertisers.
20. Use NFC to Control Your Surrounding
With a handful of software, a couple of NFC tags, automation hardware like WeMo you can hack your room lights to work on voice command. You can turn off/on light from anywhere within the same Wi-Fi network. Another great example is the Philips Hue system which has its own HTTP server running.
This is best used in Bill Gates’s techno-utopian Xanadu 2.0 mansion where NFC is placed in their id cards so when the visitors enter the mansion temperature and lighting conditions get adjusted according to demographics of visitors.
21. NFC in Smart posters
Smart posters, as the name suggests, are integrated with NFC tags to make it more interactive for the users. A user can directly watch the trailer by placing his smartphone to the smart movie poster and it will take them directly to the YouTube trailer or to their Facebook page where he can leave his review.
22. NFC in Smart Cards
These can make life easier for those people who often forget to take their business cards with them. With NFC smart cards you don’t have to worry about carrying your cards with you. You can share your name, vCard, website URL, or company Facebook page with a single tap.
A company can also give smart cards to their employer which contains their personal data, access codes. You can use the free application called NFC by MOO for writing information on your smart card.
Closing Words: Cool Uses for NFC Tags
Like I said at the beginning of this article, with NFC possibilities are endless. By using a microcontroller like an Arduino, you can control almost any electrically operate machines like a toaster, heater, even your coffee maker using an NFC radio shield.
I have listed 20 created uses of NFC, now it’s your turn. If you have a creatives idea on how to use NFC tags, share it in the comments. Till then, stay wiser.