[Tutorial] Taking Automation to the next level

0000159_round-small-sticker-with-the-nfc-wave-logoEven though most of us have an idea about what NFCs are and what they can do, we shun the thought of using them due to their lack
of application in our lives. Well, I’m here to tell you, that’s finally changed. With the help of few dollars, you can take automate your mundane activities and have your mobile phone take care of it for you.

No, this does not require any expensive sensors, hardware or fobs, just a few NFC tags that can hold a little “ID” data for you. NFC tags are pretty great. They are small, paper-like and hold 450 bytes of writable memory. Apologies for getting really technical, but I am here to show you that irrespective of your depth of knowledge in technology, you can do some really nifty things with NFC.

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I am going to write a small tutorial on what you can do and how with some examples to make it abundantly clear.

For this you are going to need:

  1. NFC Tags ( I recommend these tokens) $13 for 10pcs
  2. IFTTT Software (If this then that) (Free and paid available) (I recommend Automagic Premium)

 

Once you buy these NFC tags, we need to tell your phone what to do when the NFC is detected by it. Needless to say, you’re going to require an NFC enabled phone. With the help of apps that implement the IFTTT technology. You can set action triggers, conditions and finally, actions for your phone to do. I use Automatic Premium, but there are other free alternatives too. We are going to define a flow for this, which is nothing but a simple, graph-like structure that gives basic instructions to your phone.

Let’s go ahead and tell our app to listen for a particular NFC tag (each NFC has it’s own unique ID)
Reading for a new Tag will simply open up the wizard UI and wait patiently for you to tap the NFC tag gently on the backside of your phone.

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Once you do, the app reads the “ID” data that uniquely defines an NFC tag. For the sake of this demo, let’s give this NFC ID a nick name, i.e. “Sleep”.

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Next, we tell the app what to do when this NFC Tag is detected. This can be done using the IFTTT app. With the help of simple triggers, conditions and actions to perform we can automate simple tasks.
Here’s an example: Every night before sleeping I turn my data and wifi off and enable battery saving mode. This practice helps to improve my battery life.
Like I mentioned before, if there is absolutely any activity that is performed repeatedly it can be automated complete. So I quickly drag and drop some boxes on the app’s graph UI and tell it what to do.

Screenshot_2015-04-15-14-49-45All I am doing is telling the app to perform the following actions if at all the NFC Tag is detected (Trigger). Check if the time is between 9pm to 7am (Condition), if true set the data / wifi state to off and turn on battery saving mode (action).

Trust me when I say this: making these simple flows is one of the easiest things I have ever done. I encourage everyone to at least give it a shot. There are tons of other applications of these tags and tools: Tapping the tag on your car dashboard starts data, location and opens your maps app for guidance. You’re only limited by your own imagination.