When I was little I used to get gifts from my parents like most kids in my age, mostly toys. Being very secretive with my toys I‘d never share them with anyone except my sister; we’d play in the garden surrounding the house, also acting as a shield, blocking access to those trying to see what was happening inside. Except being secretive with my toys, my sister was bored very easily, especially with toys for boys.
One day, I received a freesbie as an ‘end of school’ present; the freesbie is that flying saucer-like toy you throw one another at the beach, but mine came with a really exciting twist: it had LED lights around the edges that would make it glow when thrown, making it look awesome! I thought I had a real treasure in my hands but being so secretive I decided to play only with my sister, who once again left the game quite quickly, finding more excitement on a role-playing game with her dolls. I was alone with a super new toy, but in order to play and enjoy I needed someone else.
I decided to go out of my house’s garden and share it with my neighborhood friends. They were ecstatic, I was their God! They’d ask me to lend them the freesbie for just one day, only to show off and play with other friends of theirs. Soon, there was no neighborhood in my small town without a toy like this, and by the end of the summer it was probably the hottest game only second to skateboard; I became witness of new ways of playing this game, I would never have imagined if I was confined to the garden only playing with my sister. I know for sure I was the very first person to hold that freesbie, may be fully responsible for this viral, because my parents got it from the dealer who brought a dozen samples to give to the nearby shops.
So I learnt my lesson early: it is amazing how popular a new concept can become, and how far it can spread if you bring it down to the right people who will decide whether they will adopt it or not, find new uses to it based on their imagination and take it to a whole new level.
I think there is a strong possibility to see something like this happening with NFC. For the past 7 years I read incredible e-mails and great posts at popular tech portals, trying to convince me that NFC is the ‘new kid on the block’ as regards to mobile transactions. No doubt, it probably is, only it hasn’t taken off has it?
But what if we start from the bottom and work our way to the top? Like make it useful for little things first, like for instance make it talk with social media? This would help it spread and stick, especially among YAFs who play key role in spreading new technologies and drive handset manufacturer’s decisions in incorporating new features and standards in their new devices.
Enter TecTiles: a programmable sticker that lets you setup a functionality for the handset to follow when it comes close to it. So I can have a sticker on my desk that makes my phone switch automatically to quiet mode. Or I may setup a sticker and put it in the car and make my phone switch to GPS mode. I may setup a sticker that makes my phone send my Foursquare location to my friends.
I will not sit and start mumbling about the price of the stickers, or the availability from one brand only, or discuss whether it will catch or not in the end, because we don’t know. I don’t know, do you? The only barrier I see with it now is that I can’t make one in the same way I create a QR code for free and print it on my printer like a sticker, but it may be a point that can be resolved.
There are many different uses that – and this makes the big difference- will allow us to play, discover new things and let us decide whether we, as handset users will adopt it or not. Then, when it becomes something that people use in one way or the other to become accustomed to it, we move the really serious staff in, like payments or security, and make it fly. Otherwise, if I wait from my banker to spread the concept, I will wait forever.