Imagine handing a business
contact a coded sticker and tapping it with your phone, allowing the quick transfer of contact information.
Or replacing your alarm clock with a bedside sticker that programs wake-up information to your phone.
Heading home from work but can't text or call while driving? Just touch the phone against the sticker on your dashboard and the phone does it for you.
Welcome to the world of TecTiles, an innovation Samsung hopes will drive its top-selling devices even further by ramping up use of near field communication (NFC) as users fill their lives and homes with the stickers.
NFC has been around for almost a decade, but has yet to either become a household term or a convenience that a substantial number of mobile users enjoy.
That could change as the South Korean electronics giant prepares a North America roll-out of its new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III.
With TecTiles stickers sold separately online -- a package of five sells for $14.99, with free shipping for orders over $49.99 -- or in major carriers' stores, along with the TecTiles app from Google Play, you can touch the phone to a sticker to launch applications, open a Web page, check in to places through Facebook or Foursquare, update your social status, dial pre-set phone numbers or send text messages.
A host or business proprietor can use the tag to allow visitors to connect to a Wi-Fi network, or post messages in different places that are accessible by tapping.
To prevent other TecTile users from changing your tag, you can check the Lock TecTile checkbox, but after that it's locked forever, even from the original user.
Strategy Analytics mobile industry analyst Neil Shah told us TecTiles could be a game-changer given Samsung's recent climb to the top of the global market as the No. 1 phone maker.
"This is a much wanted move from a market leader towards building an NFC ecosystem, and no passing fad," Shah said.
"This is an important first step for smartphone consumers to understand the usefulness of and get accustomed to the NFC technology. I thus view this as a first phase of a thoughtful phased approach to make NFC an integral part of consumer's smartphone-centric life, laying foundation for future use-cases such as payments, ticketing, retail, product info, loyalty apps, P2P sharing, gaming, toys, etc."
However, easier ways to do the same thing may be around the bend, said Avi Greengart of Current Analysis.
"Motorola and Apple are edging into the same territory with location-based reminders and shortcuts, which seems like an easier way of getting to the same place given that there is less set \-up involved for the consumer," Greengart said.
One drawback to TecTiles: You won't be able to post them on metal surfaces, which interfere with the field.
According to Samsung's Web site, the TecTiles should work on any NFC-enabled phone, but some tag types -- including phone dialing and app launching-- may not work correctly on devices that don't have the Samsung TecTiles app.
An increasing number of smartphones are equipped with NFC, and while Apple has yet to add the capability to its mobile devices, it seems likely the iPhone 5 will have it, as suggested by a recent Apple patent filing.