TecTiles can do far more than QR Codes
With the expected proliferation of NFC enabled phones this year and much wider adoption next year, Samsung has released TecTiles. What are TecTiles, you might ask. The simple answer is that they are small squares (TecTile Tags) which can be programmed to perform tasks on a smart phone when they are read by an NFC enabled phone. They contain a small chip which can be programmed to perform a function, such as opening your mobile browser and taking you to a web site. And it is on that simplicity that they threaten the existing usage of QR Codes. QR Codes have been around for a few years and are just now starting to see a growing usage. With Samsung’s TecTiles, the future for QR Codes may well be threatened.
Samsung has chosen to include the feature on the Galaxy S3 when they ship here in the US. Other NFC enabled phones will be able to download an app (TecTile) to handle the process when an NFC phone clicks on the TecTile. For those NFC enabled phones, you can go out to Google Play and download the TecTile app when Samsung puts it up.
For QR Codes, this is going to present a growing problem. While NFC enable devices are few right now, QR Codes are not threatened. But as they expand, the usage of TecTiles, and their competitors, is going to grow. And it is the simplicity of the TecTiles which poses the biggest threat to QR Codes and their future. With QR Codes, you have to scan the QR Code whcih requires you to take a picture of the QR Code and then it is read and takes you to the web site embedded in the QR Code.
For TecTiles, you do not have to go to the trouble of taking a picture. You only have to tap the TecTile with your NFC enabled smart phone and the NFC process takes over and processes the commands embedded in the TecTile. That removes the need to take a picture which may see QR Codes lose their growing usage. The growth of TecTiles is not currently understood as it is not in use, but based on what we are seeing from Samsung and various reports, this is going to be huge. It is the flexibility of them which is going to create interest and usage.
The TecTiles are programmable to do just about anything beyond taking you to a mobile web site. They can be programmed to do things like take you to Facebook and log you on. But those are specific to an individual phone. Since these can be reprogrammed, you can reuse them over and over. You can also lock them so that they cannot be reprogrammed. For technology, these could be great for things like checking in to a technology conference. The variations on what they can do almost seems unlimited.
One area where TecTiles are not going to take over is in public where QR Codes are used today. A TecTile contains a chip which can be damaged easily where a QR Code is just a picture. There is no technology embedded in it. And it is that simplicity for QR Codes which may have them survive in many situations. Things like movie posters are not going to benefit from TecTiles, but QR Codes can be used for that. The reality looks like QR Codes are going to be around, but potentially a lessor growth than was expected a few months ago. We are going to have need for both of these communication mechanisms for the future.