A notable absentee in the past few Apple launches has been NFC, the technology hailed as the solution to all mobile payment problems. While Apple has its reasons to ignore the technology until it achieves critical mass, there are many folks who do require NFC and don’t want to switch to Android or Windows Phone.
A new Kickstarter project started by the folks at Flomio aims to make NFC on iOS a reality by means of a dongle that plugs into the headphone jack of iOS devices, just like Square.
The dongle, called FloJack, is a small circular device that packs in an NFC radio, which opens up a wide range of possibilities of interfacing with real world objects including other NFC smartphones. The dongle has an NFC reader as well as a writer, which means that not only can it read information off an NFC tag, but can also write information to it. NFC tags are the little bits of data attached to objects like posters, banners, menu cards which contain information like phone numbers or URLs.
The folks behind the project aren’t leaving it just at that, though. They’re also planning to release an entire SDK for iOS developers to utilise the NFC capabilities that the FloJack brings along in their own apps.
Using the writing ability of the dongle, you can program NFC tags to do various tasks like:
Opening a certain app
Give directions between places
Call a phone number
Connect to Wi-Fi without the manual hassles of selecting a network, entering a password etc.
Check into Foursquare
Additionally, you can also exchange data between two NFC enabled devices, opening up possibilities to exchange contacts, sync configurations and do a lot of other things. There’s of course the payment angle as well, where an NFC enabled device can replace a normal credit card.
Here’s a video Flomio made to introduce the project:
The FloJack is compatible with iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, all iPads and the 4th and 5th gen iPod touch. Flomio also made a case with similar functionality for the iPhone, for people who’d like to avoid the dongle.
The project’s funding round closes on Monday, 11:59pm EST. It’s just $4000 away from its goal of $80,000. The FloJack is priced at $49 and comes with 5 configurable NFC tags. You can head over to the Kickstarter page to know more about the project.