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.

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Your phone can store your commuter pass and radio it to an entrance turnstile. Bus-riders in Hanau, Germany, are already swiping their way on board in the first commercial application of NFC. Next up: movie, concert and plane tickets.

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Any object with an NFC tag can send information to another. For example: A tagged DVD box at the store can send your phone a movie trailer. And in a current trial in Atlanta, users wave their phones in front of a poster to receive game stats and videos of their favorite Hawks players.

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Since Near Field Communication uses the same radio frequency as current touch-free payment cards, such as Speedpass, your phone will work with existing readers. But it has an extra advantage: You can lock your handset with a password, so if it’s lost, no one else can use it.