Samsung TecTiles: NFC-Enabled Stickers Allow for Smartphone Automation With the Tap of Your Device
The highly-anticipated Samsung Galaxy S III will arrive in America in just about a week; but first, Samsung has another product offering for U.S. consumers: Stickers.
Stickers? Yes, stickers.
Say hello to Samsung TecTiles, which are NFC-enabled, postage stamp-sized stickers that can be programmed to trigger a single function on a smartphone when the phone is held in proximity of the sticker's surface. The actions that the stickers can be programmed to trigger include:
- Launching an application
- Joining a Wi-Fi network
- Making a phone call
- Sending a text message
- Sharing a contact or business card
- Showing an address on a map
- Opening a web page
- Posting a pre-written status to one's Facebook
- Posting a tweet, or following a contact on Twitter
- Adding a contact on LinkedIn
...and others, which you can see here.
I tried out TecTiles at a meeting with Samsung earlier this month, and the little NFC stamps are easy to use and to program. From the user's end, you simply hold your NFC-capable smartphone (like, say, the Galaxy S III) over the TecTile for a second or so, and a dialog box pops up on your display asking if you'd like for your phone to complete the requested action. I checked in on FourSquare, added a phone number to my address book, and silenced my phone simply by holding the GS3 close to a TecTile.
(Samsung reps, by the way, were pitching that final function — silencing one's phone — for movie theaters and libraries: Imagine a line of folks queueing into a film screening, holding their smartphones up against the door to silence their phones as they streamed into the theater).
The TecTile was similarly easy to program: Just hold your smartphone over the sticker until a box with all of your programming options pops up; you then choose from a list which function you want it to perform. After you've chosen, you can "lock" the TecTile so no one else can program over it. It's all very intuitive.
Though TecTiles work well, two pesky questions linger: Who will purchase these things, and how will people learn how to use them? In response to the first question, a Samsung representative told me that retail store owners — especially small business owners — could benefit by pasting the stickers around their store, to help shoppers get more information on products, retrieve coupons or discounts, check in on Facebook or follow the store on Twitter to build customer relations.
Though primarily targeted at businesses, these TecTiles apparently have their domestic uses, too: Another Samsung rep said that he had placed a TecTile on the nightstand next to his bed, so that he could easily turn his phone on silent in the moment before he fell asleep.
As for how customers will learn to use TecTiles — Well, the biggest thing that TecTiles have going for them is probably that they are not QR codes, the universally-reviled robot-vomit scannable squares that have polluted our cities and magazines for months and have yet to catch on. (It is also much easier to hold your device over a sticker than it is to scan a barcode).
Past that, Samsung will have to educate consumers to look for its stickers, which are so small that they can be easy to miss. An advertising campaign will certainly be necessary for TecTiles to gain any traction.
Samsung TecTiles are available for purchase right now in store or online from AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint (all of which, by the way, will soon carry the Galaxy S III). Five stickers cost $14.99.