Android users with NFC-enabled phones can program TecTiles to trigger automated sequences of actions.
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Hoping to increase interest in near-field communication (NFC) technology, Samsung Mobile on Wednesday plans to introduce TecTiles, programmable NFC tags that can be used to automate actions on NFC-enabled Android phones.
The company plans to sell TecTiles in packs of five, online and in-store through AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile stores, for $15. The Android app required to program TecTiles is available at no charge in the Google Play store.
The tiles are not much to look at--glossy little 2" squares--but their affordability and flexibility could help hasten the arrival of the much anticipated Internet of Things.
Dale Sohn, president of Samsung Telecommunications America, said in a statement that Samsung sees "an opportunity to expand the value of NFC beyond mobile payments."
Samsung suggests that TecTiles have the potential to transform how businesses engage with customers. A store using a TecTile could, for example, program the tag to send a text message, load a Web page, launch an application, display a notification, or perform some other marketing or social networking function. A cinema could post a TecTile on a wall to offer customers the chance to mute their NFC-enabled Android phones as they enter the theater.
TecTiles could also be used for personal convenience. A TecTile on the table beside one's bed could alter phone settings to prevent calls from interrupting one's sleep. A TecTile in one's car could disable texting. A TecTile in one's office could enable access to the office Wi-Fi network.
Such tasks can be accomplished without NFC, using automation apps like AutomateIt and Tasker. But for people disinclined to create automated tasks, TecTiles offer a way to make pre-programmed commands accessible.
TecTiles do not work on metal surfaces and at present work only with these NFC-enabled Android phones: Samsung Galaxy S III on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular or Verizon; Samsung Galaxy S II on T-Mobile; Galaxy Nexus on Verizon, Sprint, and GSM Unlocked;
Nexus S 4G on Sprint; and Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G on T-Mobile.
Apple does not yet offer NFC technology with its iOS devices, though some industry watchers expect that to change when the iPhone 5 arrives later this year.
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