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Information with a wave of my phone? Never thought I’d see the day.

The technology is called Near Field Communication (NFC) and with a simple wave of your phone over another item with NFC technology, you can get information transmitted to your phone. Sounds kind of “Jetsons-ish,” but this is starting to have a profound impact on packaging.

Manufacturers can now embed a thin, flexible NFC tag into their labels. These tags enable consumers to interact with items they’re considering buying. By putting their phones close to the package they can see additional product and brand information, as well as insights into the supply chain of the item. The concept is similar to 2D bar codes (i.e. QR codes), but has the upside of the label retaining the original design aesthetics without an intruding bar code.

NFC is also great for manufacturers. For products where counterfeiting is an issue, they eliminate the possibility of consumers purchasing something that’s not the real deal. Also, NFC can be used to inform consumers if a product has been opened or tampered with at any point in the supply chain.

Currently, the technology is being used overseas and is starting to gain traction in the United States. Many smartphones are already NFC equipped, and more are on the way. Research firm IHS Technology predicts that by 2018 global shipments of smartphones with NFC capability will reach 1.2 billion units.

How do you see this technology being used? As a consumer, I think it’s a great way to learn more about what I’m buying and am really looking forward to its continued growth in the U.S. But like any new technology, we’ve probably only touched the surface for ways to make use of it. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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