Samsung has a new sticker that can tell a phone what to do.
They’re called TecTiles.
Here’s what they do: If you’ve got one of the latest Samsung smartphones including the Galaxy S II, Nexus, Nexus S 4G, Nexus S Blaze 4G or the upcoming S III, you can turn the sticker into a little communication station.
Using the TecTile Android app, which is available in the Google Play Store, users can customize what the TecTile does. A restaurant can program a TechTile to automatically check someone in if they wave a phone over the sticker. Stick it on a business card and people you meet can automatically download your contact info.
The technology it uses is called Near Field Communication (NFC). NFC is a wireless technology that lets two devices swap data when they’re close together. Only in this case, one of the “devices” is enclosed in a sticker.
Here’s the thing about NFC: it’s a solution in search of a problem.
Until now, most of the communication around NFC has centered on mobile payments. Instead of taking a credit card out of your wallet, you can wave an NFC-equipped phone past a reader at checkout. It’s a neat trick and all, but really, who needs it? I’ve already got my credit cards in my wallet.
But these TecTiles are different. They cost $15 for a pack of five – not cheap – but any user can easily program them to trigger a checkin, send a tweet, even set an alarm.
More importantly, TecTiles are yet another piece of evidence that Samsung increasingly views itself as far more than an efficient hardware maker. TecTiles shows that it’s trying to use software to drive consumer behavior.
If TecTiles take off – even a little bit – Apple should take note. And Google should, too.