Driving NFC User Experience At The WIMA NFC USA Conference

I recently attended the second WIMA NFC USA conference in San Francisco, which offered a unique experience to its 300+ attendees. First of all, it fully demonstrated the user experience of NFC (Near Field Communication) technology. It validated the overall assertion, “It is about the good user experience that NFC enables. It’s not about the technology.

NFC-enabled, from start to finish

At the conference, NFC took center stage from the time we arrived. An NFC chip was embedded in attendee badges and read by an NFC-enabled device to check attendees into each session and visits to the booths. A backend server tracked all activities. An NFC key ring was used as a drink voucher. Tapping the key ring on a NFC enabled device at the bar counter, attendees were notified how many drinks they had available.

ITN international offered free loaner NFC devices. The attendees could use these devices to tap each other’s badges in order to exchange contact information. They could retrieve the information from a website after they returned the device. BrilliantService provided a game (NFC Quest) to demonstrate how to leverage the NFC experience at a conference or trade show. It’s an interesting way to direct attendees to different locations within the exhibition area.

NFC from a global perspective

The conference had a global representation as well. The exhibitors included vendors from Finland, China, Greece, UK, South Korea, France, Monaco, the Netherlands, the U.S.A. Products included software solutions, management platforms, access control, mobile commerce, advertisement, debugging/testing tools, semiconductors, handsets, tags and card readers. Because Europe and Asia are early adopters of NFC technology, vendors from those areas see the U.S. as a market with great potential.

Vertical implications

From a vertical market perspective, the airline industry is doing some interesting things with the technology and is creating a good user experience. Both Japan Airline and Scandinavian airline shared their experiences with using NFC to serve their customers. Scandinavian airline offers “SAS smart pass” NFC tags to their 300,000+ Gold members. The smart pass is designed to attach to the back of a mobile phone and can be used for starting self-service, fast tracking through security, accessing the member lounge, and boarding.  Customers who are short on time are well served through the smart pass NFC readers and tags, which speed up the check-in and boarding process. Most of the Gold members adopted the technology right away. In fact, 87 percent of the Gold members used it and 50 percent have used it regularly since its launch in October 2011.

NFC drill-down in keynote and panel discussions

The conference featured some interesting panels and keynote speakers. There was a brand panel discussion that discussed the importance of positioning NFC in terms of improved user experience rather than as a new technology. With effective branding, people will understand the benefits of NFC.

There is a clear call to drive collaboration and standardization of this technology so that it can be used widely to improve our lives. The NFC Forum is leading the effort. Unless vendors and carriers work together to standardize the NFC technology, it will be a long time before it can be used to its fullest potential.

WIMA did a good job to bring together brands and solution providers to highlight the latest uses of NFC. What questions do you have about the technology? Do you see applications for it in your business?
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