NFC (Near Field Communication) is all around us now, whether you like it or not. Especially since Apple Pay uses this technology, its bound to become talked about more daily. The company and project I’m talking about today has everything to do with NFC, and how it can automate tasks in your home, work, or vehicle.
The PhoneHome Project Backstory
The PhoneHome Project started in 2013 when founder Brian Hruza began developing ways to augment smartphone use in the home with NFC tags for common tasks. The project aims to simplify repetitive daily tasks, especially where users interact with technology. They believe the smartphone is now the center of our media consumption and can be enhanced to interact with your entertainment center, lights, appliances, laptop, PC and many other connected household devices.
The PhoneHome Project was backed by the Mountaintop Project, and The Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation at Lehigh University. The project plans to make a significant mark within the smartphone and smart home industry.
Setup And Use
Included in the premium package are 10 NFC tags with the PhoneHome logo on the top and 3M sticky pads on the bottom. The package also contains stickers for the tags, with various pictures on them, and an educational pamphlet.
The walk through listed on the educational pamphlet is a great start to realize the functions of this system. The NFC tags are empty. This means they don’t control your phone, but the app they suggest, Trigger, will allow your phone to initiate a function when the NFC controller realizes the specific tag is in range. Here are the steps listed:
- Download Trigger, a powerful NFC tag programming mobile app.
- Open Trigger and create a new Task by pressing the + sign in the top right corner.
- Click the + sign again to create a new Trigger and select NFC.
- Click Next and hit Done on the restrictions page.
- You should now see NFC under the Triggers page.
- Click Next and Press the + sign on the Task page.
- Add the Tasks you want the NFC tag to perform.
- Optional: Add Tasks to the Switch page. This can enable a toggle on/off when you scan the tag a second time.
- Click Done and Scan your NFC tag to the back of the phone to write the program.
And that’s how easy it is to set up one NFC tag. If any of you have ever used Tasker, this app is quite similar in function, and will make using your phone in your home so streamlined!
After setting up a tag to turn on Bluetooth, which connects to my Bluetooth speaker, and then opening Google Play Music, I realized the extent of The PhoneHome Project. Had I had this during my review of SmartThings, I’d have been able to put my house in different modes just using NFC.
With the use of multiple NFC tags, you can easily program different tags to provide different functions. For instance, I set up the Google Play Music function on one tag, for when I get home from work, but then when I need to get writing, I have another tag set up for the vibrate function to be enabled on my Moto X.
Since I use a few WeMo devices, I can make PhoneHome Project work for me. You can program the lights or switch to turn on or off when you place your phone on the NFC tags. So when it was time for bed, I selected the tag on my bedside table to turn off my front lights and living room lights. So easy, when you consider its just one less thing you need to remember in your day.
The ease of use incorporated into the PhoneHome Project is designed to make it possible for “regular” people to use and set up. However, as a power user, the PhoneHome Project is a far reaching product. As they state in their mission, their goal is to bring home automation to the masses, using the NFC tag as a worthy assistant. The fact you, as the consumer, set these tags up and can change them at any time, makes it a more flexible concept. I like to be able to adjust things on the fly, and these tags make it possible since they are empty. If you have them set up like you want them, there is nothing to change.
I found the PhoneHome Project to be easy to use, and fun to fiddle with. The sticky pads, since they are 3M, are very sticky, adhere quickly and don’t peel off after regular usage. The stickers with different images on them portraying possible tag functions are nice to be able to remember what the tag does, if its not something you use frequently. Have a look at the website and the Kickstarter for more information on how to use this and how to get ahold of it!