Samsung TecTiles let users program NFC tags

Samsung’s hoping to give near field communication (NFC) a whole new set of applications by offering what it calls TecTiles alongside the Galaxy S III.

Not dissimilar to Sony’s SmartTags, TecTiles are three-inch-square stickers containing an NFC tag that can be programmed (and reprogrammed) using a free app to do – well, practically anything.

“With millions of NFC-enabled Samsung Galaxy smartphones currently in the market and the arrival of our flagship device Galaxy S III, Samsung saw an opportunity to expand the value of NFC beyond mobile payments,” says Dale Sohn, president of Samsung Telecommunications America,.

“The launch of Samsung TecTiles is another example of Samsung’s ability to innovate new products and applications that improve the way we use our mobile devices for everyday tasks.”

Users can pop one of the tags on their nightstand, for example, and then tap it with their phone to automatically set an alarm and turn on silent mode; or stick one on a photo of a friend and tap it to place a call or send a text.

Other applications incude using them to connect a phone to a Wifi network – great for visitors, says Samsung – swapping business contact information or updating Facebook status.

There are commercial applications, too, that go way beyond automatic payments. “Businesses can program TecTiles to allow consumers to check in to their location and can even provide discounts based on check-ins,” says Samsung.

They, too, can give Wifi access to visitors, and offer discounts, reward programs and other services.

Any NFC-equipped Android phone can use the tags, although programming them requires the Samsung-only app. Unlike QR codes, there’s no need to use the phone’s camera.

TecTiles will be available from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile when the Galaxy S III launches on the 21st of this month, costing $14.99 for a pack of five. The app is downloadable free from Google Play. In the long run, we may see the company release an API to developers for integration into other applications.