Near field communication (NFC) as the bridge to the Internet of Things (IoT) and the consumer was the message I delivered to a large crowd of radio frequency identification (RFID) professionals recently at RFID Journal Live! in Orlando, Fla. RFID Journal LIVE! is the world’s largest event focused on RFID and related technologies.

My presentation was titled IoT 2021: Connectivity on Your Terms. You can find my presentation here.


My goal was to show an RFID audience NFC’s value in extending their existing customer relationship from the factory floor or “back-shop” – where RFID is commonly used — all the way to the consumer for IoT applications. RFID and NFC are not competitive. They are complementary. NFC has the unique capability to allow users IoT connectivity on their terms as the users have the ability to initiate connection, control and commissioning.

I started my presentation by sharing with the audience NFC-enabled tattoos provided by Cellotape. The audience had fun, but using the tattoos demonstrated to this almost entirely RFID-centric audience the value of NFC – proximity, security and user intent. More importantly, it got the audience thinking about how NFC could complement RFID in real-world applications.

RFID is a proven technology and good at what it does. The complementary benefit NFC brings is that NFC engages the consumer directly—there are already two billion NFC-enabled devices in use worldwide.

Together, RFID and NFC can complement one another and provide connectivity on the user’s terms. For example, a brand could tie its RFID-enabled factory inventory to a retail outlet shelf and then using NFC extend the relationship to a consumer from purchase through loyalty. This is not a new idea.

At our last member meeting held at Google’s Java Corners facility, we dedicated an entire day to the Connections Summit where the interaction between NFC, RFID and AIM were explored. This was a joint event with the RAIN RFID Alliance and AIM, Inc. Find out more about the Connections Summit here.

One of our members even wrote a book detailing the NFC features of mobile marketing and an infographic from the Retail and Payment SIG was released late year touching on the subject.

IoT Nostradamus

One of the “hazards” of being asked to present at conferences is that you are sometimes asked to make predictions about the future. Luckily, when speaking about NFC technology, the future looks bright.

Everyone wants to know what is on the horizon for the technology. RFID Journal Live! organizers asked me where I thought the IoT market was going and where some of the future opportunities may lie over the next few years. Here is what I said:

Most Promising IoT Opportunities Over the Next Three Years

  • By 2020, 90% of cars will be online, compared with just 2% in 2012
  • Global spending on IoT devices and services will rise to 1.7 trillion in 2020
  • Global wearable device shipments are expected to surge from 76 million in 2015 to 173 million units by next year
  • Over 1,000 cities use contactless technology for payment and access to transportation

Not surprisingly, these opportunities line-up nicely with the focus of our Special Interest Groups (SIGs).  As an organization the NFC Forum is well-positioned to benefit from the growth of NFC and IoT – maybe with the help of RFID!