by Paula Hunter, November 4, 2013

As the new Executive Director of the NFC Forum, I have spent a lot of time over the past few weeks listening, learning, and adding a whole new list of acronyms to my vocabulary.  The timing of my joining the NFC Forum team could not have been better, as evidenced by the current market situation, the state of the NFC Forum as an organization, and new and intense interest in driving NFC adoption in key industries.

I was fortunate to see some of this energy firsthand at our members meeting in Prague, but there have been other indicators as well.

We recently heard from John Devlin, of ABI Research on the state of NFC adoption, and it was clear that we are at an important inflection point.   With nearly 400 million NFC-enabled smartphones deployed worldwide, and growth projections nearing 1 billion handsets by 2016, we are reaching critical mass for large-scale application and infrastructure deployments.

For example:

  • Activision, a major game publisher, introduced an NFC-enabled video game – Skylanders – that quickly became last year’s top seller.
  • Hyundai announced that it will offer a solution that allows NFC-enabled devices to integrate with its cars – for keyless access, entertainment, and more – by 2015.

But no standards project will see sustained success without significant commercial investment and technical contribution. The growing membership of the NFC-Forum reveals a strong level of interest from companies across our ecosystem to not only to fund the activities of the NFC Forum, but to continue also to contribute technical and business expertise to our programs and committees.

Our membership has grown to more than 190 members, with a surge in Implementer members this year – and important indicator of market development. While in Prague I saw these members tirelessly working to contribute across a broad spectrum of work, from technical to marketing.

Another sign of maturity is the increased focus on large scale, and in some cases complex deployments.   This indicates that NFC technology has reached a sufficient scale and that there are ample business opportunities for the integrators who can help make these projects happen.

Two industries that are keen to collaborate with us are the Automotive and Air Travel sectors.   At our Prague member’s meeting, we welcomed a number of guests to a dedicated session on the automotive industry.  NFC technology has a variety of use cases applicable to automotive, including pairing, wireless charging, setting driver preferences, and more.  Experts from our membership ranks addressed technical and implementation questions and gathered business requirements to ensure our work supports the needs of the industry.

In the Air Travel segment, we have been partnering with IATA, and this week announced the NFC Reference Guide for Air Travel.  The NFC Forum’s Air Transport Task Force and IATA have collaborated on the guide as a way to help the air travel industry better understand and evaluate potential benefits and costs, use cases, and implementation options associated with the adoption of NFC Technology.

The signs of progress are everywhere. Companies are deploying NFC technology in huge numbers worldwide, our members continue to invest in advancing the technology, and industry leaders are working together to collaborate on complex deployment opportunities.

Now is the time for NFC, and I’m delighted to be a part of it.