Forgot your wallet? You´ll need a better excuse than that for passing on the check. By next year, you´ll be able to pay simply by swiping your cellphone a few inches from a cash register, with a new wireless standard called Near Field Communication. An NFC chip in your phone will send your credit-card number-stored on your phone or on the chip-by way of short-distance radio waves. An electronic reader at the checkout will decode the number and ring up your purchase.
Unlike radio-frequency identification (RFID) and other existing contactless payment systems, NFC chips allow two-way information exchange by rolling an RF transmitter and reader into one five-millimeter package. That means the chip can also take in data, such as a receipt zapped to it by a cash register or a bus schedule from a tag embedded in a bus-stop sign.
You don´t even have to buy a new phone. When it hits stores next spring, the miniSD-card-size adapter from SanDisk can add NFC to any smartphone with a Symbian operating system when it hits stores next spring. The first pay-by-phone option should roll out later this year, with more applications to follow.
For three things Near Field Communication can do for you, launch the photo gallery.