NFC Tags to Empower Users in The Internet of Everything Else

Here is a continuation to my ramblings about the solely private use of NFC tags. I have already mentioned that there would be many benefits in considering some tags as public goods, and now, I wll focus on tags to be associated to things, as owned by companies or individuals. I have pompously called this the Internet of Everything Else, because all current Internet of Things products and frameworks focus only on the things to come, forgetting all objects that already exist or that are not that easily connectable.

Like public tags, there is a strong interest here to have a generic Web platform to handle such thing tags, which would need to follow some basic principles:

  • Be thing-centric. The tag must be primarily associated to the thing, whatever it is, and it should be able to provide information about that thing (e.g., link to user manuals, warranty information). On the opposite, the tag should not solely be a direct marketing fixture for the thing’s manufacturer and/or distributor.
  • Give power to the thing’s owner and users. The tag is associated to something, this thing is owned by someone, and that person need to have control over the tag. Except from the core thing information mentioned above, the owner should have control on what they want the tag to do. If I want to use the tag conveniently placed on my coffee machine to launch my e-mail every morning, I should be able to do so, as long as I still have a way to access the other information associated to the tag when I want to. And if my daughter wants the same tag to trigger some other default action when she scans it, it’s fine too.

If we combine these two items, we get to an interesting VRM idea: the tag on the thing is the link between the thing’s owner/user and any businesses that may be linked to it, and the user keeps some control:

  • The user/owner can contact the businesses if required.
  • The businesses associated to the thing can contact the thing’s owner, only as authorized by the owner.
  • The owner of a thing can transfer the ownership to another individual, who then becomes the contact for the businesses.

In a world where objects often have a lifecycle involving several individuals, this is a great way for businesses to keep in touch with the actual user of their products, while providing more control to the end users. Like usual, I strongly believe that this interaction strategy is likely to have better returns for businesses than basic “advertising push” strategies. And the service to users is real, even if it is limited to providing access to information related to their things.

Once again, I haven’t found anyone doing something even remotely similar to this among all the NFC companies that are popping up everywhere. If you are doing this or know someone who is doing it, please comment on this; I would love to take a look.

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