Helena Markey explores the ways that Samsung’s tectile technology and technologies like it can be exploited to promote audience engagement.

“One of the really great things about tectiles and other NFC-activated tags is how multi-faceted they are:  they can be used extensively in both our professional and personal lives.  On a simple level, it means that we can programme a tab to carry out a chosen action in the physical or digital world.  This tab works with the NFC (Near Field Communication) on our phones or tablet devices, which nearly everyone has on them all the time, thereby granting high levels of accessibility and participation.  As soon as you place your phone over the tab, it automatically enables the programmable content on the NFC tab.  There is no limit on its capability, although in some cases you will need to pre-install an application on the device with which you wish to activate the tab.  You could use it to activate all your home lights in one go simply by touching your device to a tab near your front door.  After all, NFC is the same technology which powers our Oyster cards.

The beauty of tectiles and other NFC activated tags is that they are a form of open-source Android technology and therefore not device-specific.  This again is hugely important in terms of the accessibility and breadth of choice represented by this technology as it means that anyone can be a developer.  Not only does this open up the new technology, but it also contributes to the sustainability of the industry as a whole as it provides young people with an increasingly viable career route.

This technology is already in use across a range of museum apps, and is readily transferable for use in exhibitions of any scale.  It could even be used to automatically put delegates’ mobile phones on silent when they enter an auditorium for a plenary session or seminar, or connect them to a specific WIFI network.  It can also be used to show active audience participation by sending a generic post (or like) to Facebook or Twitter.  As a delegate at the stand of a sponsor at an exhibition, this technology could be used to enable access to company information or even to direct consumers to the company’s website so that they can purchase a product.

From a financial perspective, this is a fantastic investment for an organisation as the tabs can be reprogrammed an unlimited amount of times – another endorsement of their sustainability credentials.  The only flaws that I can see to this technology are that it doesn’t work on Blackberry or Windows NFC phones.  That said, this problem is easily overcome by providing delegates with a tablet onsite at the event.   With these exceptions, the only limitations on the functionality of this technology are the creativity and the quality of the ideas generated.”