What the Tech? NFC Tags

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(ABC 6 News) – Technology has made our lives much easier. Some of it can be frustrating but there’s no denying smartphones have changed our lives forever. Newer technology is improving convenience even more. One of the latest technologies is called NFC, or ‘near field communication”. It’s the same technology used in credit cards, digital business cards, and other things that trigger a response by tapping a smartphone against a small device or pad.

Now NFC tags are in the mainstream, allowing users to control smart home devices and run shortcuts they create on iPhones and Android devices.

For example, you can create a shortcut to turn on the lights, a security system, or set an alarm. Shortcuts can also automate sending text messages and set reminders. By using NFC tags and stickers, triggering those shortcuts is even easier.

Here’s an example: Have you ever left a load of laundry in the washing machine? Forget about it and they’re all smelly? It happens and it’s a stinky problem that often requires running the washing machine once or twice more.

I programmed an NFC tag to set a timer when I started the laundry. My washing machine takes 47 minutes to do a load. I set up the tag using the Shortcuts app on an iPhone to create and start a timer for 47 minutes and stuck it next to the washing machine. When I tap my phone on the tag it starts the timer. In 47 minutes when the laundry is done, I get a notification and alarm on my phone.

I’ve set up a sticker behind my furnace filter to set a reminder. When I replace the filter I tap the tag to be reminded in 3 months that it’s time to replace it again.

You can use the tags to send reminders and messages to someone else’s phone. Like when you feed the dog or add a frequently purchased item to a grocery list.

I set up a tag for the car. When I tap it, the phone sends a message to my family that I’m headed home and it starts playing my driving playlist.

Android users can share access to your home WiFi. Guests won’t have to enter a password. They can just tap a sticker or tag to be logged on to my network. I haven’t figured out how to do this on an iPhone.

You might think that this technology packed in a small disc or sticker might cost a pretty penny but I’ve found them online for $15 for a pack of 50. They come in different colors, as stickers or discs, and many can be marked with a pen so you remember what they’re for.

So how do you get these tags to do what you want them to do? That’s another story and we’ll talk about that next time.