Like so many tech innovations before it, near-field communication is a game-changing concept with a gobbledygook name.
For all the success the technology world has had pioneering innovative and disruptive devices that revolutionize the way we work, talk, play, and even eat, the industry's ability to distill these forward-thinking concepts into consumer-friendly terms continues to disappoint.
History is full of Silicon Valley phrases that are a confusing mouthful of tech jargon--think "location-based services," "Voice over Internet Protocol," "augmented reality," "net neutrality," or "Internet-connected television," all important innovations and services reduced to abstract, hyphen-heavy phrases.
Near-field communication is not a novel concept--the NFC Forum was created in 2004 and first phone enabled with the technology was launched in 2007--but it is poised to take off. NFC is a wireless technology that allows devices to communicate with each other and exchange data at close range (within around four centimeters) just by coming into contact with one another. The NFC Forum explains, "NFC is both a 'read' and 'write' technology. Communication between two NFC-compatible devices occurs when they are brought within four centimeters of one another: a simple wave or touch can establish an NFC connection, which is then compatible with other known wireless technologies such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi."
It could allow users to pay for their subway fare just by tapping their phones against a NFC-enabled gadget, or it could turn ads and signs into "smart posters" that present users with additional information when they wave their smartphones over an "infotag." (See more applications here) A new report suggests Apple will incorporate the technology in its next generation of iPhone and iPad devices to enable users to pay via their mobile gadgets.
But before the technology becomes more mainstream, is there a chance its name could get a makeover? Do you think it needs one?
Submit your suggestions for alternate terms for "near-field communication" in the comments below. We'll feature the best in this entry.