QR Codes and NFC

16 Apr 2012
by John Foley
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At interlinkONE, we have been big fans of QR Codes for a long time.

We absolutely think that they are a great way to make print interactive and measurable, and they can certainly help you reach the mobile audience.

However, we are always keeping our eyes open to other technologies that could disrupt the way that people consume information and communicate.

Here Comes NFC

Before we discuss what NFC is, we’d like to demonstrate it to you. Here’s a video that I recently had the chance to film with our CEO John Foley, Jr.:

An Overview of NFC

NFC stands for Near Field Communications. To put  it simply, it is wireless technology that allows an initiator and a target to interact within close range.

Thus, NFC makes it possible for us to do what we did in that video — we could simply tap our NFC-enabled phone against the printed piece, which then directed us to the web.

That’s one of the big differences between NFC and QR Codes. With NFC, we did not need to open up an App first, and have it do the work of figuring out where the QR Code on the printed piece wants to send us.

The Mobile Buzz

Over the past couple of years, the mobile world has certainly been spreading the buzz about NFC.

Granted, the buzz about QR Codes has been much louder! And for good reason.

In order to use a QR Code, you primarily just need to have a smartphone. Anyone with a smartphone can download a QR Code reader App to start interacting with printed materials that have QR Codes.

However, you can’t just download an App on your iPhone today to use NFC.

The enablement of NFC primarily requires hardware changes. As of today, the iPhone does not support it. The same can be said for many of the other smartphones that are owned in the United States, as well as in other parts of the world.

However, that will change sooner than later. We don’t know when Apple will start supporting NFC in the iPhone. But when it happens, the usage of NFC will certainly take off.

More NFC Resources

If you’d like to read more about NFC, here are a few links that may help:

How Will You Be Affected By NFC?

The Wikipedia page on NFC lists a number of practical applications on how NFC could be applied to the “real world”.

A lot of the recent talk and news centers around how it will be a huge player in the mobile payment world.

  • You’ll be able to pay for things simply with your mobile phone thanks to NFC
  • You’ll be to access/present your account information for a loyalty card program thanks to NFC
  • You’ll be to take advantage of coupons and discounts with your phone thanks to NFC

But it certainly goes beyond that.

  • You’ll be able to register for contests by tapping your phone against a poster or flyer
  • You’ll be able to watch a How-To video after tapping your phone against a product’s packaging
  • You’ll be able to connect with people you meet by tapping your phone against their business card
  • And more!

John Foley, Jr.'s NFC LinkedIn Card

Will NFC Replace QR Codes?

This is just my opinion — but I certainly do not think that a surge of brands using NFC will spell the end of QR Codes anytime soon.

For one, NFC is not going to work unless you are a extremely close to the target (1.5 inches, according to Wikipedia). Thus, I think that QR Codes will continue to be an effective way for people to make posters, signs, and other printed banners interactive.

In the end, technology succeeds if it truly makes life easier for customers and prospects. Is it easy-to-use? Is it easy to explain the technology to other people? Does it deliver an appropriate and compelling experience?

Those types of questions will always be ones that the technologies of the future need to answer. No matter what “wins”, it looks like we are all in for some excitement and changes.


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