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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 ATT, 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 ATT, 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.
At this year’s InformationWeek 500 Conference C-level execs will gather to discuss how they’re rewriting the old IT rulebook and accelerating business execution. At the St. Regis Monarch Beach, Dana Point, Calif., Sept. 9-11.