Wednesday, July 22, 2015

There's a Tag In There - Another Public NFC Tag Spotting

I randomly set my cell phone down on a Library Book, and to my surprise, the phone beeped back at me. It wanted to handle the current NFC tag. Huh? Peeking inside the back cover of the book, I see this sticker:

Of course, this makes total sense: an NFC sticker is dirt cheap and provides an error free way of tracking an object.

The tag doesn't appear to contain much data:

The fact that it's writeable makes me wonder if I could store my own data in the tag. Perhaps I could store the last page I was reading? Or, better yet, a secret message to be picked up by my handler. You know, a sort of NFC based dead drop.

Spycraft aside, I do wonder what the best use of this technology is. Certainly, the library could build an app that would allow you to trivially scan and renew a book. I suppose they could even allow you to check out the book without standing in line at a kiosk. That would be nice.

The obvious use without needing to get the library involved is to do a variation on my NFC object tracking. That is, scan the book, and leave notes associated with it for later review.

Yeah, I'm not how I'll put these tags to use. But it sure is cool finding NFC tags in the wild.

Oh, and before you go off and quit your day job to write a killer Arlington Library NFC app, note that of the 5 books I have checked out, only one of them has a tag. It's a 2001 edition of Roadside Geology of Virginia. Sort of a random book to get tagged (versus, say, a new book). So who knows where Arlington is going with this whole tagging effort.

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