We’ve been talking about NFC technology for a while on the Digital Rx blog. Although it’s not quite in the mainstream yet, this is still one of the most exciting things coming down the mobile pike (for those unfamiliar, Near Field Communications is a communications protocol that allows devices to wirelessly exchange information just by being in near proximity to each other). Here’s our May roundup of the latest NFC news!
Health: iMPak Health RythmTrack Cardio Monitor
NFC isn’t just for payments. iMPak, a joint venture between non-profit Meridian Health and chip maker Cypak, has announced their first NFC-enabled monitoring device. The credit card-sized device takes its readings from the patients thumbs and can document heart rates, heart rate variability, and calculate R to R intervals and single lead waveforms. It then transfers all of that data over NFC to Android smartphones (and iPhones when they support it — see below). Here’s a video:
The device is similar to AliveCor’s iPhone ECG, though that device requires a custom case for your iPhone rather than a separate sensor. AliveCor’s device was recently demonstrated to be as good as a purpose-built ECG, as documented in our Weekly News Roundup from May 23rd.
Security: Toulouse-Blagnac Airport to test NFC check-ins
We’ve seen QRCode based airport checkins for a while now (there’s a fairly good chance you’ve even used one if you’ve checked in online before your US-based flight and been given the option to mail a boarding pass to yourself). France’s Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (TLS for you airport code junkies) will be the first airport in the world to start using NFC-based checkins when their pilot program (ha! pilots and airports) launches this summer. 50 travelers will use their NFC-equipped phones as their keys to the airport, gaining access to parking, security, and a VIP passenger lounge. Keep an eye out for more systems that use your phone as your ‘key’, eventually reducing the number of things we have to carry to exactly one.
Devices: An NFC Case for iPhones
Apple’s iPhone is one of the world’s most popular smartphones and, so far, one of the biggest holdouts on the NFC front. Most of its major competitors have an NFC-enabled device on the market (Samsung’s Galaxy S2, RIM’s BlackBerry Bold) but Apple has yet to announce NFC support (though it is rumored for the iPhone 5). Fear not loyal iPhoners! DeviceFidelity has a third party case on the market that provides NFC support in your beloved device. Called the In2Pay iCaisse, the hard case brings both NFC and a 50% battery boost to your phone.
Payments: Bank and Teleco Partnerships: CIBC and Rogers
Google Wallet was one of the first mainstream NFC payment options to hit the market. We’re not starting to see some interesting partnerships between banks and telecos in the race to bring payments to a smartphone near you. CIBC, one of Canada’s five largest banks, has partnered with Rogers, one of its three largest telecos, to enable Visa and MasterCard card holders to store their payment information in BlackBerry devices. We’re hoping to see fewer proprietary solutions that encourage vendor lock in and more industry partnerships, but in the meantime we’ll take whatever we can get. This announcement is also well timed as the Canadian Bankers Association (of which all the major banks and credit unions are members) has just announced their Mobile Payments Reference Model, a set of guidelines for the development of mobile payments at the point of sale in Canada.
Payments: Carrefour launches Mon Panier mobile grocery service
Massive French grocery chain Carrefour has launched a new mobile grocery service called Mon Panier. Smartphone equipped shoppers can use their mobile app to place and pay for a grocery order remotely, which gets dispatched to their local Carrefour. Staff on the ground pick and bag all of the items, which then wait patiently for their new owner to arrive at the store. Shoppers go straight to the Mon Panier kiosk when they arrive and identify themselves either by tapping their NFC-enabled phone on the screen or placing the on-screen QRCode under a reader. The service is powered by AirTag’s AIRSHOP solution.