Working on Your Peripheral Vision – Future Watching

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One of the problems with trying to predict the future is not using your peripheral vision.  Paying attention to the horizon for so long makes you unaware of that beach ball about to hit you in the head from the left.  Watch Out!!  Using your peripheral vision means maintaining watch on technology that you saw months or sometimes years ago which is now starting to gain acceptance.  The field is always changing.  And by field, I mean Near Field Communications (NFC).

You may have been watching NFC with much hope and as it seemed to slowly stagnate, you moved on to the next problem.  While I also seemed to discount NFC as well, there are some things happening that are bringing it back up again.  So, if you are worried about the legal issues in emerging technologies, take a look back and re-acquaint yourself with it.

Quick Personal Reflection on Lack of Peripheral Vision – Bluetooth

As I was thinking about this topic, I looked back at my own advice over the years.  I remember the early days of Bluetooth and how I discounted the technology way back in ’99, or so.  It looked like interesting technology in the early days, but the promiscuous nature of broadcasting a network connection made me fear its long term prospects.  While the Bluetooth special interest group (SIG) was only first formed in 1998, its adoption was slow with Apple not supporting it until 2002 in OS X 10.2.  I woke up one day and it seemed like Bluetooth was everywhere, and I wanted it so badly.  For some reason I didn’t see the beach ball that hit me in the head.

Competing Technologies?  NFC vs. QR

In the mobile space, one of the nirvana states that everyone is waiting for is the solution to the mobile payment problem.  Two of the competing trends were NFC and Quick Response (QR) codes.  QR codes have been used for marketing purposes (links to more information-rich sites for instance on billboards or business cards), but the thought in the mobile payment space was to enable a secure payment tunnel between an end user and the point of sale.

NFC was proposed as a payment mechanism and has had some acceptance.  MasterCard’s PayPass technology is one example.  Adoption in the payment space has been slow, with a survey from 2012 showing only 12% had used the technology.  This years numbers are more promising for those in the space, with 85% polled wanting contactless payments and 72% seeing no obstacle with NFC.  Security concerns were down, with only 5% citing security as a problem, versus 42% from the 2012 survey.

Payments with QR codes is starting to get some traction as well, with Paydiant providing white label payments API’s to banks, retailers and processors.  While QR payment methods are relatively new in relation to NFC, they seem to have one advantage.  Disruption.  It wasn’t happenstance that I called out MasterCard’s NFC solution.  NFC seems to be where the traditional players are gravitating towards as they can still control the transaction.  QR, and companies like Paydiant, want to break out of that model and storm the ramparts.

The Power of Peripheral Vision

Okay, NFC has been around for a little while, and QR codes are relatively new, but they are not over the horizon.  They are already here and a bit passe for the future-focused.  If you had been using your peripheral vision you might have noticed some new developments and a blending of the technology in a new way to engage your consumers.

A small company out of Australia, Red Crystal, is offering a nice blending of these technologies.  Using whatever technology the consumer wants, Red Crystal opens up an ad hoc secure connection between a large screen and the user’s mobile device.  As described in a FastCompany article, Google is testing out this technology in Sydney and Brisbane.

The article also notes the increasing use of NFC to do something we all hate, airport lines.  Coordinating with RIM, the Toulouse-Blagnac airport will implement NFC in a small trial to allow flight ticket validation, payment in the airport, and receive information.  I don’t know how I feel about the pilot as it seems to be a bit intrusive to me.  But Red Crystal’s technology seems to be a nice blending of technology and allowing the user to control the interaction fully.

What Am I Getting At?

Now that I have rambled about something I picked up on the news wire this morning, you are wondering what it all means.  For the lawyers reading it, if you aren’t thinking about how your clients are using technology like this, you are going to be unprepared when they come to you.  If you are a creative and you aren’t thinking about how to engage consumers in blended ways like this, you need to be paying better attention to the possibilities.  For me, it means I need to come back to my thoughts tomorrow on privacy.  Though I thought this would be a nice break.

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