Using NFC around the office

Using NFC around the office

One of the first questions that visitors to the office have is ‘what’s the Wi-Fi password?’

Using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology which is included in devices such as the Nokia 920 and the Samsung Galaxy S3, we can circumvent the hassle of setting them up on the Wi-Fi by programming a NFC tag – the small black disc in the picture above – to connect guests to our Wi-Fi network.

When visitors tap their device against the tag, it will turn on their Wi-Fi (if it’s not already on), then automatically find the correct SSID (the name of the network) and submit the password, which is also loaded onto the tag.

I tried it by ‘forgetting’ the Wi-Fi network on my phone and turning off Wi-Fi, so it was like I had never used the network in the office before, then tapped my phone against the NFC tag. It turned on my Wi-Fi and then found, authenticated and connected to the network in less than a second.

If we wanted to, we could also program the tag to open our website, or suggest to the device to ‘check in’ via Facebook or Foursquare. Or if you had another tag, you could put one in a meeting room so when people come into the meeting room, they could tap their device against it, and it would turn the device onto silent mode, and set their status as ‘busy’.

Guests connected to our network in this way do not ever need to know the password itself, as it is encrypted and stored securely on their device. Setting it up is really straightforward, all you need is an app like NFC Task Launcher, a NFC tag and the credentials for the Wi-Fi network.

The one drawback to this is that NFC is not yet ubiquitous across devices, but with Google Nexus tablets starting to introduce NFC hopefully in the future we will see more tablets and phones – and maybe even laptops – that are NFC capable. As the trend of BYOD at work gains traction, and more people use devices other than laptops and PCs, this is another example of technology making life easier around the office.