Nokia 3220 with NFC

Posted on 6 December 2005 in Interaction design, Mobility, Research, Ubicomp, Usability

First impressions

Overall the interaction between phone and RFID tags has been good. The reader/writer is on the base of the phone, at the bottom. This seems a little awkward to use at first, but slowly becomes natural. When I have given it to others, their immediate reaction is to point the top of the phone to the tag, and nothing happens. There follows a few moments of explaining as the intricacies of RFID and looking at the phone, with it’s Nokia ‘fingerprint’ icon. As phones increasingly become replacements for ‘contactless cards’, it seems likely that this interaction will become more habitual and natural.

Once the ‘service discovery’ application is running, the read time from tags is really quick. The sharp vibrations and flashing lights add to a solid feeling of interacting with something, both in the haptic and visual senses. This should turn out to be a great platform for embodied interaction with information and function.

The ability to read and write to tags makes it potentially adaptive as a platform wider than just advertising or ticketing. As an interaction designer I feel quite enabled by this technology: the three basic functions (making phonecalls, going to URLs, or sending SMSs) are enough to start thinking about tangible interactions without having to go and program any Java midlets or server-side applications.

I’m really happy that Nokia is putting this technology into a ‘low-end’ phone rather than pushing it out in a ‘smartphone’ range. This is where there is potential for wider usage and mass-market applications, especially around gaming and content discovery.

Improvements

I had some problems launching the ‘service discovery’ application. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and it’s difficult to tell why this is. It would be great to be able to place the phone on the table, knowing that it will respond to a tag, but it was just a little too unreliable to do that without checking to see that it had responded. The version I have still says it’s a prototype, so this may well be sorted out by the released version.

Overall there is a lack of integration between the service discovery application and the rest of the system: Contacts, SMS archive and service bookmarks etc. At the moment we need to enter the application to write and manage tags, or to give a ‘shortcut’ to another phone, but it seems that, as with bluetooth and IR, this should be part of the contextual menus that appear under ‘Options’ within each area of the phone. There are also some infuriating prompts that appear when interacting with URL, more details below.

Details

The phone opens the ‘service discovery’ application whenever it detects a compatible RFID tag near the base of the phone (when the keypad lock is off). This part is a bit obscure: sometimes it doesn’t ‘wake up’ for a tag, and the application needs to be loaded before it will read properly. Once the application is open (about 2-3 seconds) the read time of the tags seems instantaneous.

The shortcuts menu gives access to shortcuts. Confusingly, this is different from ‘bookmarks’ and the ‘names’ list on the phone, although names can be searched from within the application. I think tighter integration with the OS is called for.

Shortcuts can be added, edited, deleted, etc. in the same way as contacts. They can be ‘Given’ to another phone or ‘Written’ to a tag.

There are three kinds of shortcuts: Call, URL or SMS. ‘Call’ will create a call to a pre-defined number, ‘URL’ will load a pre-defined URL, and ‘SMS’ will send a pre-defined SMS to a particular number. This part of the application has the most room for innovative extensions: we should be able to set the state of the phone, change profiles, change themes, download graphics, etc. This can be achieved by loading URLs, but URLs and mobiles don’t mix, so why should we be presented with them, when there could be a more usable layer inbetween? There could also be preferences for prompts: at the moment each action has to be confirmed with a yes or a no, but in some secure environments it would be nice to be able to have a function launched without the extra button push.

If a tag contains no data, then we are notified and placed back on the main screen (as happened when I tried to write to my Oyster card).

If the tag is writeable we are asked which shortcut to write to the tag.

When we touch a tag with a shortcut on it, a prompt appears asking for confirmation. This is a level of UI to prevent mistakes, and a certain level of security, but it also reduces the overall usability of the system. With URL launching, there are two stages of confirmation, which is infuriating. There needs to be some other mode of confirmation, and the ‘service discovery’ app needs to somehow be deeper in the system to avoid these double button presses.

Lastly, there is a log of actions. Useful to see if the application has been reading something in your bag or wallet, without you knowing…

19 Comments

  1. Mobile Mentalism:  » Prototype Nokia 3220 NFC RFID phone could reshape society
    12 December 2005

    [...] about what you can do with the new Nokia 3220 NFC RFID phone after the jump  [Source: ElasticSpace] How the Nokia 3220 RFID phone can be used  Parse e [...]

  2. PL
    13 December 2005

    will this have relevant capabilities before mass distribution?

  3. andrew wilson
    13 December 2005

    looks great. Just swiping the phone across things and making the lights flash looks like fun in itself, but I’m a simple type

  4. varun krishnan
    13 December 2005

    Looks amazing….but the cost ??

  5. FoneArena » Nokia RFID on 3220
    13 December 2005

    [...] ould get your kids phones to SMS you as soon as they past a RFID point at home. read more here Posted in: Technology, Manufacturers, News Technorati Tags | Tags: nokia, rf, rfid [...]

  6. Vidman
    21 December 2005

    coooooooooooool

  7. Future Feeder » Archive » Nokia with Near Field Communication
    23 December 2005

    [...] nterface links phones to phones as well as tags for embedded location-based triggers. via elastic space related : Masaki Fujihata : Field Works | Reality Mining : Big Bro [...]

  8. adam
    24 December 2005

    definatly going to be a pain for corprate govenrnment and accidemic security whom use rfid to secure buildings. a digital reader and writer in a phone. could potentaly be a problem with how the security works in the cards

  9. link dumpage » The address book desk
    27 December 2005

    [...] s, scribbles and tea stains alongside names. Check it here. See his blog entry about the nokia 3220 NFC and Nokia’s page about NFC. Got it from Make. [...]

  10. slaintemiq
    30 December 2005

    i’m excited about this technology, having ust recieved a 3220 as my free upgrade. I’m dissapointed that it has not really been advertised here in the states though. Tis a shame, i think

  11. ed
    10 January 2006

    anyone thought about the possiblity of reading London Oystercards? could it tell you how much credit you have on it? writing to it?

  12. SymbianForever
    16 January 2006

    [...] ototipo con RFID

    |
    Enero 16th, 2006 | 

    Acabo de leer que hay un prototipo Nokia 3220 con RFID integrado en su sistma y que se llama N [...]

  13. Chris
    21 March 2007

    I have one of the new Nokia 6131nfc and it is fantastic. This thing just blows me away the way it reads tags and get replies.

  14. Serge
    17 April 2007

    Can anybody give me an idea where I can buy one 6131NFC?

  15. thaiye
    26 April 2007

    where to get the nfc phone? how much the cost?

  16. Adrian
    19 May 2007

    I’m looking for one too, have you had a any replies?

  17. Mike
    1 June 2007

    Here is one place, it’s however sold out in many web shops…

    http://toptunniste.fi/topshop/product_catalog.php?c=8

  18. Ravikumar
    11 February 2009

    Do we any count, how may NFC related applications developed by 3rd party developers available in the market?

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