The Near Field Communication Forum development looks very interesting. It is an RFID standard that will allow mobile phones to communicate with other machines, merely by bringing them in close proximity with each other.
Oyster card holders who travel on the London Underground will already be familiar with this technique. Waving the card over the entry barrier causes it to open.
There are just so many potentially exciting applications for this technology. I firmly believe that it will be an exciting development for mobilisation of our daily routines.
One possibility is mobile payment. With point-of-sale systems emerging like Mastercard's Paypass, which uses RFID, we are one step closer to making payments simply by waving our mobile phone over a reader. Motorola are conducting such a trial with Paypass-enabled phones.
Paypass is a superior version of the new Chip & Pin initiative in the UK. However, with the basic infrastructure for point-of-sale PIN verification now in place, an RFID extension is a mere hardware upgrade.
There are many exciting connections with my favourite theme of spatial messaging. By placing readers in known locations, users can access very precise location-specific information in a jiffy. This may well prove to be the most cost-effective means of enabling certain types of hyper-accurate location-based services.
A favourite of mine is the virtual information kiosk. Simply walk up to a reader, wave the phone and then start accessing information related to the reader's place and purpose. For example, it could be shopping information in a large department store. The information could come in any manner of media, including an MP3 "podcast".
I recently wrote about this topic in a chapter "Mobile in the 3G Era" for a new book "Mobile Mania: Social Trends and Mobile Phone Use" to be published this year, and I hope to post a summary soon on my site.