Near Field Communications (NFC) applications will transform consumer commerce, connectivity and content consumption, beginning with trials through 2006 and volume deployments into 2007, according to a new study from ABI Research. NFC, a short-range contactless communication protocol, enables easy-to-use, secure Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity between devices. It provides high bandwidth content acquisition and transfer, contactless payment capability and smart object interaction. That means, for instance, interactive advertising posters and kiosks, instant ticketing and transmitting audio, video and pictures. NFC brings convenience to increasingly connected digital customers. “Near Field Communications” details NFC’s global business applications, market players and opportunities. According to Erik Michielsen, the firm’s director of RFID and ubiquitous networks, the story of NFC’s growth from ‘infancy’ to ‘young adult’ status will play out over three years. 2005, he says, has seen the groundwork laid. The NFC forum industry association now counts 60-plus members and this year has demonstrated the critical ability of many players — wireless carriers, handset OEMs, application developers, payment processors, infrastructure providers, content owners, card issuers, bank and merchants — to collaborate. “2006 will be a year of trials and trial data digestion,” says Michielsen. “NFC standards, licensing and interoperability will solidify. Commercial NFC products will reach market.” By 2007, the research indicates, higher volume NFC deployments will be common, first in wireless handsets, then in other kinds of consumer electronics, from PCs to cameras, printers, set-top boxes and more. However, certain conditions are essential to NFC’s success. Michielsen states: “Open, interoperable, standards-based NFC environments are critical to stabilizing NFC ecosystem working relationships and commitments, especially with wireless carriers seeking clarity on NFC business benefits. 2005 and 2006 NFC trials will be important to help them understand how the numbers add up.”