Wearables – from smartwatches to fitness trackers – are hot. According to analyst firm CCS Insight, the wearable device market will generate $12 billion in 2015 – and more than double to $25 billion by 2019. That also includes wearable cameras, virtual reality headsets, and augmented reality headsets.

But, thanks to the power of NFC, the wearables market is now reaching far beyond those categories.

MasterCard mediumSource: MasterCard


Take the Momento Pearl or Lokett, for example. They’re beautiful as jewelry, but also function as “digital lockets,” enabling you to store your most precious moments – including digital audio and images – on a hidden NFC tag within them. A touch of your NFC-enabled device and they come to life.

Then there’s the Tago Arc bracelet. It combines NFC technology with an E Ink display, enabling you to change the design on the bracelet with a tap of your NFC-enabled device. There are thousands of unique designs to choose from – and because NFC provides the power, it uses no battery, so it never needs recharging.

For the ultimate in wearables, you don’t even need jewelry or a wristband. That’s because there is now NFC-enabled apparel. MasterCard recently teamed up with Rhianna’s favorite designer, Adam Selman, and others to create a range of “connected clothing,” included a dress, bag, earrings, gloves, and sunglasses. Forget your wallet? Lose your phone? No problem. With the power of NFC, you can make purchases with your payment-enabled dress.

Where will it all lead? No one knows for sure. But one thing is certain: NFC is unleashing new levels of creativity and connectedness that may take the wearables market far beyond smart watches and fitness trackers.

Ruth Cassidy is Communications Director for the NFC Forum. She can be reached at rut[email protected].