Thoughts About : Near Field Communication
Wikipedia: Near Field Communication
In the jumble of wireless protocols like RFID, Bluetooth and Ultra-Wideband is Near Field Communication. It's designed to connect devices through magnetic field induction by bringing them within centimeters of each other. It's designed for making payments with your phone, but there's got to be more fun that can be had with this. I like the fact that it's range is so short and from my limited knowledge i'm guessing it would be hard to build something like the BlueSniper Rifle for magnetic field induction.
Microformats combined with NFC will be big, you could carry around a bunch of personalization information with you. Before I get in my car I can pass my phone over the door and when I get in, the seat is how I like it and the radio has my presets. You could probably extend that to any car like rentals. Forget using a usb drive to carry my bookmarks and stuff. I can just place my phone on the computer and there they are, so is that proposal doc I have to finish writing.
I would really like to see this in action. If you have to hold the two things together for more then a second and wait for a green light, well it's going to be less then remarkable. If you can literally just wave it in front of the other device and it will reliably transfer the data, then it'll be something special.
This might kill things like QRCodes, if passive NFC is cheap and easily deployed. Why take a picture of something when you can just pass your phone over it and it transfers information or sends you to a mobile website. Plus it can be indirectly two way, so what ever is passed to you, you can pass on to something else. Say you pass a poster for a new subway sandwich, there's a little NFC enabled graphic on it. You pass your phone over it and it's a coupon for a half off sandwich. So you goto the nearest subway and pass your phone over the reader there to get your half off sandwich. If your wearing a tinfoil hat please stop reading. Now when the marketing group at subway bought these posters they embedded a unique key in each one and they know where each one is placed. While the campaign is going on they can see where people are coming from to redeem the coupon at each store. After a bit of A/B testing they could figure out that one area only needs a 30% off coupon while another requires 50% to drive traffic to the subway.
My last thought on this is a system for connecting to friends. On your way into a bar you swip your phone over a NFC tag that gives you a unique id for the bar that is then used to update your whereabouts on your mobile myspace/xanga/[insert site here]. At the same time the bar's system lets you know who on your list of friends is at the same place. Basically a automated interface into a site like dodgeball.com.