WIMA NFC USA Conference
I attended the second WIMA NFC USA conference in San Francisco on November 28th and 29th. There were about 300 attendees and 28 exhibitors. The conference offered a unique experience to its attendees.
First of all, it fully demonstrated the user experience of the NFC (Near Field Communication) technology. It validated the overall assertion, “It is about the good user experience that NFC enables. It’s not about the technology and it’s not just about mobile payment.”
An NFC chip was embedded in the badge and read by an NFC enabled device to check attendees into each session and visits to the booths. A backend server tracked all activities. An NFC key ring was used as drink vouches. Tapping the key ring on the Nexus 7 tablet provided at the bar counter, one was notified how many drinks he/she had available and received a drink.
ITN international offered free loaner NFC devices. The attendees could use an NFC device to tap each other’s badge to exchange contact information. They could retrieve the information from a website after they returned the device. BrilliantService provided a game (NFC Quest) to demonstrate NFC experience in a conference or trade show. It’s an interesting way to direct attendees to different locations within the exhibition area.
Second, the conference had a global presentation. The exhibitors include vendors from Finland, China, Greece, UK, South Korea, France, Monaco, the Netherlands and the USA. Europe and Asia adopted NFC earlier and vendors from those areas see the USA as a market with great potential.
In the vertical market, the airline industry seems to adopt the technology faster and is creating a good user experience. Both Japan Airline and Scandinavian airline shared their experiences with using NFC to serve their customers. Scandinavian airline offers “SAS smart pass” i.e. NFC tags to their 300,000+ Gold members. The smart pass is designed to attach to the back of a mobile phone and can be used for starting self service, passing secuirty and fast track, accessing lounge, and boarding. Customers who are short on time are well served through NFC readers and tags, which speed up the check-in and boarding. Most of the Glod members adopted the technology right away; 87% of the Glod members used it and 50% use it regularly since its launching in October 2011.
Third, the conference had a panel or keynote speakers. It was well organized and very effective. Also, there was a brand panel discussion that reflected the fact that NFC technology needs to be presented through a good user experience approach rather than as a new technology. With effective branding, people will understand the benefits of NFC.
Overall, people want to collaborate to standardize the technology so that it can be used widely to improve our lives. The NFC Forum is leading the effort. Unless vendors and carriers work together to standardize the NFC technology, it will be a long time coming before it can be used to its fullest potential. WIMA did a good job to bring together brands and solution providers to present the latest use cases.