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The rise of Near Field Communication technology means it's only a matter of time before more compatible toys have a bigger impact on the industry.

NFC and the toy industry

What the heck is this NFC stuff you may have heard about recently and should your firm be using it? 

Well, if you own an Oyster card you’ve already used Near Field Communication technology. When you press the card onto a ticket terminal, it registers the action and the money on your account is altered accordingly.

Several smartphones also use NFC technology. You can position your phone next to a special reader to make a payment, or face another compatible smartphone to swap content like music and video files.

If you’re familiar with Skylanders, you’ll also be aware of the power of NFC within the toy industry. Place a figure on a special stand linked to a games console, and the technology lets the game know which character is in action, as well as other details like its name and any special attacks it has learnt.

NFC works using magnetic induction: a reader emits a small electric current, which creates a magnetic field that bridges the physical space between compatible devices, and lets them talk to one another. That’s the science behind it. But for children, it’s magic.

There’s no doubt more and more NFC-compatible toys will emerge. Mattel has dabbled in this area with its Apptivity toys. Earlier this year, Disney announced its plans to enter the Skylanders-style toy/video game market this August with Disney Infinity. More recently, video game giant Nintendo revealed that it too will enter the fray by launching Pokémon NFC toys, which are compatible with the Pokémon Rumble U game for its Wii U console.

Collectable toy line Floppets is also tinkering with NFC technology. The £1.99 animal figures have the possibility to use NFC to interact with each other wirelessly.

The technology is only going to increase in prominence as the smartphone technology becomes commonplace. And Skylanders has made over $1 billion in worldwide retail sales in just over a year. So perhaps the question should be, can you afford not to be thinking about NFC? 

About the author

Dominic Sacco is the deputy editor of ToyNews and Licensing.biz. To get in touch, call 01992 535646 or email dominic.sacco@intentmedia.co.uk.

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