The Mobile Party is Just Getting Started

April 16, 2011

There’s really no contest over whether or not mobile is “the next big thing.” It is, it’s here, and it’s growing rapidly. What’s most exciting to me, is the functions that your smartphone is going to start taking over in your life.

Want your already high powered phone to be your credit card, metrocard, and anything else you’d previously needed a card for? It can be with Near Field Communication (NFC) chips. Swipe the chip close enough to a reader and you can transfer data, whether it be your credit card number or your location for a quick check-in. NFC chips are already in some Android phones and there are rumors foretelling an NFC chip coming to the iPhone 5 (or whatever Apple chooses to call it). In the next couple of years, they’re likely going to be available in most smartphones. At that point, it will be up to the less tech-savvy businesses to integrate card-readers into their normal operations.

I’m excited for my Foursquare (or Yelp, Gowalla, or SCVNGR – gosh there are a lot of startups in this space) check-in to happen by tapping my phone at a reader by the door, and then I can pay by waving my phone over a sensor at checkout. For those of the female persuasion without the functional pockets of our counterparts, the need for a purse declines significantly. Leaving the house hands-free is a wonderful feeling.

In addition to consolidating and simplifying the repetitive process in life onto your phone, the UIs for onboard apps are going to get simpler, too. No more refreshing the page to find the location you’re at before you check-in, tapping the place, tapping the check-in button, then clicking submit. Four steps turns into one: swipe… done.

The potential uses are endless. Want to know how much money you have in your account? Swipe your phone by a sensor when passing by the bank. (This does raise an inevitable security issue, but I’ll leave that to the hardware geniuses to protect.) Diabetic, have a rare health condition, allergic to Penicillin? Your phone can let the EMTs know even if you’re unconscious. I’m eager to see all the day-to-day stuff get increasingly easier and tackle the bigger problems we’ll now have new solutions for, all from a small piece of hardware.