The NFC Forum unveiled a new method for sending messages between NFC-enabled phones, which promises easier ways to exchange data across mobile devices.
The Forum’s Simple NDEF Exchange Protocol (SNEP) enables two NFC-equipped phones to share data wirelessly and directly, and is available for the public to download free of charge. Beyond messaging, the protocol has a broad range of applications. SNEP could enable NFC phones to exchange contact information, for instance, or retrieve media by gathering NFC tags on movie posters or advertising.
“By extending NDEF to peer-to-peer communications, our SNEP specification adds to the usability of NFC technology and broadens its possibilities, enabling enterprises to offer new, creative, and appealing applications to businesses and consumers,” said Koichi Tagawa, a chairman at the NFC Forum.
In addition, SNEP may have applications in the mobile gaming industry. NFC-enabled games are only beginning to be explored with the nascent technology, with games like Rovio’s “Angry Birds Magic,” which feature different ways for players to unlock levels and collaborate on one game across multiple NFC devices. The new protocol may broaden the types of data exchanged in games, and may bring a whole new level of creativity to titles.
SNEP may have several possible applications in the world of mobile payments as well, with several parties touting NFC as a key technology in the market. People could conceivably use SNEP to transfer funds between two phones by holding them close together, eliminating the necessity of writing checks.
The uses for SNEP may grow, especially as NFC gains wider traction in the smartphone market and more handset makers equip their smartphones with NFC chips.
The Isis mobile payment venture recently acquired several major phone manufacturers’ support for its plan to build an NFC-based e-wallet system, which will likely hasten NFC, and thus SNEP, adoption in the mobile marketplace.
The number of phones with NFC capabilities is set to rise in coming years as well, putting NFC and its capabilities in more consumers’ hands. As more phones become equipped with NFC, the applications of the technology will likely grow.
Already, Indian firm United Tectsa developed has technology to let retailers tap NFC-enabled mobile devices against products to determine whether they are eligible for return. This technology may eliminate paper receipts as well.
The SNEP protocol looks to broaden the already widening usages of an emerging technology, especially as phone manufacturers look to install NFC chips in their wares and as gaming and mobile payment developers create software to take advantage of the technology.