Vern Freedlander, vice president, production, X2O Media " />

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Digital Signposts: The NFC Bump

Mar 25, 2013 10:15 AM, By Vern Freedlander, vice president, production, X2O Media

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NFC is an acronym for “near field communications,” and in the digital world it represents one of the most exciting breakthroughs in both user convenience and communication possibilities. NFC is a technology implanted in digital devices that allows the transfer of content between devices in a seamless and powerful way. There are a variety of examples: waving your NFC-tagged credit card over a check-out device to pay at a store; bumping your smart phone with a friend’s phone to share an application; or placing your mobile device near a digital screen to obtain a coupon or receive special bonus content.

The possibilities in the digital signage space are especially exciting. Though there are many ways content can be transferred between a screen and a mobile device (QR codes, text, and email opt-in), NFC ushers in a new era of extraordinary convenience where simply placing the device within a few inches of the screen will trigger a content transfer. There is no app to open, nothing to scan, and nothing to type. Retailers can use NFC to easily offer coupons and special promotions; hotels can offer wayfinding maps and amenity details; enterprises can provide employees with convenient access to training content; and universities can transfer student schedules. The possibilities are endless.

Content is no longer confined to the place-based screen. Digital signage takes on a new role as a content catalogue/transmission device, where a user can survey what’s available and then takes what he or she requires. Content can literally travel with the user, and that content in turn can virally find its way on to the devices of other users. Creative network operators can explore gamification, interactive apps, and other innovative ways to make the signage experience more relevant, engaging, and entertaining.

Network operators are always looking for solutions that are both disruptive and expedite the user experience. Just as it has become normal for users to automatically touch a screen to see if it is interactive, soon they will habitually position their smart phones near screens to see if they are NFC- compliant. NFC creates the bridge between signage and the highly coveted mobile marketing opportunities that retailers are focussing on. Integrators and network operators must ensure that their solutions fully embrace NFC technologies and must work diligently with their clients to develop creative solutions that leverage NFC’s communication and marketing possibilities.

Vern Freedlander is vice president of production services for Montréal-based X2O Media, a full-service provider of technology, network management and content services for professional digital signage applications. With more than 20 years of broadcast television experience as a producer, director and executive, Freedlander oversees all of X2O Media’s content initiatives. He can be reached at

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