Michelle Maisto at eWeek offers a nicely written explanation of how TecTiles — small badge-like items that can attach to just about anything — work.
TecTiles, which is Samsung's branding of a particular use of near-field communications (NFC), essentially are agents of a smartphone that can do simple things when the device is saved at them. NFC is most closely associated with e-wallets, but there is a world of other potential uses for the technology.
Here is one of Maisto's examples of how the TecTile approach offered by Samsung could work:
At the farmers’ market I visit each weekend, for example, I can imagine the vendors using such stickers—stuck somewhere on their tables or posters—to have customers or passersby sign up for their mailing lists, or to hop on their Websites, or to Like their honey or lavender or fresh eggs on Facebook.
Bluetooth offers an obvious hint of how TecTile and similar approaches may impact NFC. Bluetooth technology can be used for any number of things. Its identity was cloudy, however, until a “killer app” — enabling safe phone use while driving — came along. This has driven adoption of the technology to great heights.
It was thought that the killer app for NFC would be e-wallets. That still is a potentially mammoth market. However, it is extremely complex due to things that have nothing to do with NFC, such as security of payments and infrastructure in stores. It may be that TecTiles and projects like it — which use NFC for far simpler tasks — will pave the way.
Samsung apparently is way ahead on NFC and this new use strategy. The Droid Guy has a supposedly leaked instructional video that shows in great detail how potentially useful and easy to use TecTiles are. AnandTech offers a nice roundup of where the vendor is, and highlights some possible uses for TecTiles. Like the leaked video, the presentation makes it very obvious that potentially this is a very big deal.
TecTiles and similar initiatives will open up tremendous opportunities for organizations. The first iteration will be consumer-facing. In the long run, however, there will be many corporate uses. When this happens, the usual follow-on issues — security, management of the platform in a bring-your-own-device landscape and others — will emerge. The use of NFC tiles also will provide the e-wallet category with the stimulus that it apparently needs.