Google Android 2.3 NFC Scans Portland Businesses

Google is already leveraging the near field communications capabilities in Android 2.3, launching special NFC-enabled stickers in Portland local businesses. NXP is helping in a big way.

Google has begun distributing special stickers with near field communications (NFC) technology to let business owners in Portland, Ore., tout their wares right from their doors.

NFC is a short-range wireless technology that lets devices communicate from within a few inches of each other. Users can take a smartphone equipped with an NFC chip and sensors and touch their handsets to a contact terminal, poster or stickers equipped with NFC sensors to make a purchase or retrieve more information about a product or service.

Google envisioned such mobile application scenarios when it baked NFC capabilities into Android 2.3, which powers the new Samsung Nexus S smartphone.

This handset, which also includes a special NFC chip and software stack from NFC provider NXP Semiconductors, is rolling out Dec. 16 from T-Mobile and Best Buy in the United States.

NFC in a device is useless without external NFC sensors with which to talk. Google is testing this technology in the Recommended on Google window sticker, part of the Google Places marketing kits it is distributing to Portland businesses.

Google envisions consumers will stroll from store to store in Portland, touch their Nexus S or some other NFC-powered Android phone in the future, and find out more about what's inside. This can save customers time because they don't have to pop in if they don't think there will be something inside they like.

This effort also made more clear Google's plans for Hotpot, the local recommendation engine Google unveiled last month that aggregates ratings and reviews about restaurants and other establishments from Android smartphones.

Google is launching a Hotpot Jackpot competition to encourage Portland inhabitants to rate the places they know and share them with friends and family, said Bernardo Hernandez, Google's director of emerging marketing.

Google christened the effort at a Portland Trail Blazers basketball game Dec. 9, offering prizes for attendees who posted ratings and reviews about Portland businesses to Hotpot.