What’s so great about NFC Tags? They have been around for years now, and still hardly anyone uses them. It’s not like not many phones come with NFC. Most mid-to-high end Android phones come with NFC support, but the usage of NFC tags is restricted to some large events or dark rooms of few nerds. One of the most important reasons we believe, is the higher costs associated with NFC Tags.
Each NFC Tag from the likes of Sony and Samsung cost somewhere around $3, and to effectively make use of NFC, one might need to have at-least 8 to 10 NFC tags for their rooms/cars/workplaces etc. And there are not-so-well-known companies specialising in NFC Tags who sell in bulk for around $1.5 a tag, which isn’t bad, but they aren’t all necessarily of highest quality. Some of them don’t even bother to reach out to end-users and are happy to serve big enterprises.
Enter Wafer. A brand new NFC Tag which is pretty inexpensive, while not sacrificing the customisability or quality of the tag. It supports a wide variety of NFC writing apps while being compatible with almost all NFC-enabled devices from the likes of Samsung, Sony, HTC, Nokia, BlackBerry, Motorola and many more!
Developed and produced in Goa, India, this one-man-team startup is out to break the NFC shackles. Nagarjun Kinare, the guy behind Wafer has bootstrapped his startup and is aiming to reach out to the masses through his Indiegogo campaign where he’s looking to raise at least $1,000 for Wafer. That’d enable Nagarjun to move from prototyping stage to mass production, which he plans to complete by August 2014.
On first look, Wafer looks like just another NFC Tag, but it isn’t. In addition to being colourful and classy to look, Wafer differentiates from the likes of Sony SmartTag and Samsung TecTiles, by including 512 bytes of memory which is more than 3 times of what we see on most of the existing NFC Tags. For those who care, it’s a Type-2 NFC compliant tag which is NFED formatted with 512 bytes of memory. This ensures that it’s compatible with almost every NFC-enabled device out there in the market.
For the uninitiated, NFC tags like Wafer can be used to complete multiple tasks on a single tap. Here are few of the simple use-cases we can think of:
- Share your business card pr contact digitally with a single tap
- Turn your phone to silent mode when you are work or on full volume once you’re outside.
- Turn on the WiFi with a single tap when you’re home.
- Turn on the Bluetooth or launch maps as soon as you enter your car.
You can even group these tasks into a single NFC tag!
To make it more attractive, WAFER is letting its Indiegogo backers to customise and personalise the NFC Tags. That’s kind of a big deal if you ask me. You can add your own text to your tag and they will print the customized Wafer tags for you, so that you can have unique personalized tags for all your tasks. How cool is that?
Each Wafer tag is 25 x 25 mm small and weighs just around 20gm. It’s waterproof and supports over 100,000 write cycles (which should be a few years of usage at least). It also supports secure write/lock data and has an operating range of 0-50mm (which is possibly the only con which we could think of).
We tested one of the final prototypes of Wafer NFC Tags over the past couple of weeks and were absolutely delighted with its overall quality. Although the tag by itself supports various kind of data, we found that the NFC writing apps are pretty restricted still, specially on Windows Phone and BlackBerry. Apple is yet to support NFC, but that might happen with the upcoming iPhone 6 if all those rumors are indeed true.
For now, if you own one of those NFC-enabled smartphones and were waiting for an inexpensive option to go NFC friendly, then make sure you check out Wafer tags on Indiegogo. A pack of 10 tags would cost just $11 (approx Rs.660) or $13 if you’re looking to personalise each of them. There are other perks as well, so make sure you check them out right away.