[Android Tips] Use writable NFC tags to conveniently automate simple tasks on your smartphone

razor512razor512 United States Posts: 2,629 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

While this will not really help you while you are on the go, it is pretty convenient when you want to set the device down. For example, if you have a dock or mount for your smartphone, or simply an area that you may occasionally place a new or old NFC enabled smartphone, you can augment the location with some automation for your smartphone. This tutorial will show you a small subset of the interesting things that you can do with the NFC feature on your smartphone.

Given the small size of the NFC tags, and the ability to have the smartphone perform a wide range of actions based on what is saved on the tag, You will start to think of many creative use for your NFC tags.

For example, I placed one inside of my keyboard, so that when I my smartphone over the LCD area, it will launch the Logitech Arx software.

What will this tutorial do for you? It will introduce you to the idea of programming NFC tags in order to automate certain functions, as well as placement of the tag within an example device.

Things you will need:

  • NFC enabled smartphone.
  • Writable NFC tag (often found on eBay, and various other stores, I recommend 128 Bytes or higher (64 Bytes minimum).
  • Free app such as NFC tools NFC Tools - Android Apps on Google Play
  • Double sided tape (If placing the tag inside of another device).

Programming your NFC tag:

  1. Launch NFC tools.
  2. Click on the "Write" tab. Write-tab.jpg
  3. Click on "Add a record".add-record.jpg
  4. Select the type of action you would like the tag to perform (for this tutorial, I will have it launch an app).
  5. If you have selected "Application"application-button.jpg, then click on android icon. android-button.jpg
  6. Now, select the application you would like the tag to launch.
  7. Now click on the "Write" button. write-button.jpg
  8. Place the NFC tag near your phone, and it will program it.

Your tag should now be ready to use. Any time you place the phone's NFC antenna area within 0.5 inches of the tag, the application you selected will launch.

Write-tag1.gif

A loose NFC tag can be useful on its own, but an area where things get really interesting, is when you embed the tags into specific locations or devices. For example, adding the WiFi connection info for the guest network on your router, to an NFC tag, thus allowing easy connection without having to enable the insecure WPS function. Or like I will show later, adding an NFC tag to a specific spot near the top of a keyboard in order to have the phone automatically launch a resource monitoring app for my PC.

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Here is a video demonstrating the installation process. Sorry for any issues with the audio, the neighbors have been blasting music all day, so I had to do a lot of work with the sound remover tool in adobe audition. luckily some rap music does not have too much variation in the audio, thus 3 sets of patterns took care of nearly all of the noise, though it did degrade the audio quality by a bit.

image

  1. With the keyboard not connected to the PC, flip it over, and begin removing the screws (keep track of where each one goes).
  2. Remove the back cover from the keyboard.
  3. Locate a spot where you will normally rest the smartphone.
  4. Apply a small piece of double sided tape to the area.
  5. Stick the NFC tag to the double sides tape.
  6. Place the back cover back onto the keyboard, and then re-install all of the screws.

Now whenever you place the phone on a specific spot on the keyboard, it will launch the app you selected. If you go through with placing a tag in the keyboard, another interesting app besides a resource monitor, can be your security camera software, great for keeping an eye out for package deliveries while you pass the time by doing some PC gaming.

When you are done installing the NFC tag inside of a device, the end results should look like this.

NFC tag in use.gif

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