A Samsung Intern From GA Tech May Have Cracked One Of The Mobile Industry’s Biggest Problem
Want to spend a summer making photocopies? Don’t work as an intern for Samsung’s Nick DeCarlo.
Forget fetching coffee. The vice president of portfolio marketing for the South Korean tech conglomerate’s U.S. arm had a far more challenging assignment for Eric Medin, intern from the Georgia Institute of Technology, last summer: figure out a way to make use of a technology known as near field communication (NFC) that doesn’t involve payments.
Not an easy task. NFC has long been regarded by cynics as the Brazil of mobile technologies: it’s the future… and always will be. The technology lets smartphones and other devices communicate with each other by holding them near each other. To put it crudely, think of it a smart, two-way version of the radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags widely used today.
That could unlock a dizzying array of new applications involving payments, user authentication, and communication. The problem: while Samsung is pushing NFC in its phones, including its new flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S III, no one has bothered building an infrastructure to support NFC because, well, no one uses it yet.
Medin’s proposal, put into action by Samsung Senior Product Manager Fred Zimbric, may have cracked that chicken-and-egg problem. TecTiles, launched Wednesday, are smart stickers that customers can program with their Samsung smartphones and use to automate a broad range of tasks. The phone’s alarm can be set by tapping it to the nightstand, for example. A user can send a text message to his wife reading ‘I’m headed home now’ on the way out of the office by tapping a sticker on his desk.
Samsung is basically letting consumers build their own personalized NFC infrastructure. The price is right: the TecTiles will sell for $14.99 for a pack of five from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile. DeCarlo is hoping that Samsung’s bottom up approach will encourage small businesses to help build out an infrastructure fo the technology, too.
Coffee shop owners, for example, can boost their shop’s profile by encouraging user’s to ‘check in’ on Foursquare — or automatically ‘like’ the shop onFacebook — by tapping the phone to a TecTile. From there, DeCarlo is hoping NFC will trickle up to larger businesses.
As for DeCarlo’s intern? Samsung brought the graduate of the Georgia Institute of Techology’s MBA program on full-time last month.