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NFC tags, anyone?


sidbaxter
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Just got a Samsung Galaxy Nexus with Verizon, and, while doing great service as my sole geocaching device, it has another capability that may be worth exploring. NFC (Near Field Communication) is, as is my very rough understanding, the phone's ability to interact with tiny, programmable tags (chips, actually.) They cost about a dollar apiece, and range in size from that of a dime to a half-dollar. Some are built for use outdoors. Here's an example: Write/program a tag, stick it on the cell-phone mount in your car, and every time you place your phone there it will turn on the speakerphone or turn off wi-fi, or whatever else you program the tag to initiate. Only a few mobile devices currently available are capable of using the technology, but it seems that many more in the future will use it. Wondering if there isn't some application for geocaching here, i.e. an NFC tag stuck to the cache container's lid which, when a compatible device were held near it, would automatically log your visit. It could potentially also confirm (or discredit) your claim to actually having found the cache, serving as irrefutable proof.

 

Please bear in mind that my understanding of this technology is feeble at best; it would appear, however, to offer the geocaching community something useful. Anyone with more knowledge on the subject care to ring in?

 

-Note: If this topic is already being discussed elsewhere in the forums, I apologize. The site search engine requires the use of words four letters in length or longer, so my searches for "NFC tag" produced no results.

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With only a handful of devices on the market world-wide that can read them (excluding dedicated NFC reader devices, of course), its use for geocaching would be even more limited than Garmin's Chirp.

 

Automatically logging would require an app on your phone (Groundspeak-official or otherwise) and API support (which probably is already there). But now you've re-invented Munzees (they use QR codes instead of RFID, but otherwise it's the same idea as what you proposed with sticking it on a cache lid).

 

And I'm not taking my smartphone out of the warm, dry confines of my jacket in a 10 degree blizzard just to log a cache.

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And I'm not taking my smartphone out of the warm, dry confines of my jacket in a 10 degree blizzard just to log a cache.

I'm not taking myself out of a warm room in a 10 degree blizzard just to find a cache :D

 

I thought NFC tags could be useful for trackables. Make it a combo NFC / QR sticker on a trackable, and it would make discovering them at events a lot more convenient.

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I like Knowschad's thought about Garmin using the technology. It would be great for multicaches. Scan the tag and have the coords for the next waypoint instantly loaded into your GPS. :)

Doesn't Garmin already have that with Chirp? Can't you do the same with QR codes and have it open to a wider audience than just those who have NFC equipment and know how to activate it (IIRC, Verizon can't ship the software with the Galaxy Nexus, so you have to know enough to go get it from the Market to use it)?

 

Chirp, NFC, QR code, they all require you have an additional device or acquire a new device that has the requisite hardware. How many gadgets do I need to take with me caching?

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And I'm not taking my smartphone out of the warm, dry confines of my jacket in a 10 degree blizzard just to log a cache.
Don't knock it till you've tried it.
I thought NFC tags could be useful for trackables. Make it a combo NFC / QR sticker on a trackable, and it would make discovering them at events a lot more convenient.

Now that is an idea I can get behind. Scan code, automatically log it as "discovered" on the site. Find a way to optionally tag the cache or event you're at at the same time and that's a million-dollar idea.

Edited by dakboy
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Chirp, NFC, QR code, they all require you have an additional device or acquire a new device that has the requisite hardware. How many gadgets do I need to take with me caching?

Well do you take your boat, scuba gear and rock climbing equipment each time you go caching?

Just because a cache requires special equipment there is no requirement that you must attempt to find that particular cache.

 

GS opened the door to special technology when they allowed the use of chirps and the even earlier Wherigos. Of course this was when GS and Garmin got along. Now that Garmin started their own cache listing service new technology may have a tougher time getting in the door.

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All,

 

I've been cooking something up the past few months and I think it has potential to evolve into something more. I'd like to make a geocaching type game that uses NFC technology, but with many more gaming elements. The additional sensors available on a mobile phone can provide tremendous potential. Feel free to check out my landing page:

 

http://www.tortugagames.com/

 

I'd love to hear suggestions for what you guys think would be the most fun, best features, etc.

 

I hope to turn this pipedream into a reality for everyone to enjoy.

 

Cheers,

Adam

@astjohn

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Maybe you should think in terms of multiple tags because they are cheaper than a phone. Off the top of my head, scatter a bunch of x and o tags that people would take to a tic tac toe (naughts and crosses) game cache/person. Something where game progress determined what tag type you want would be fun.

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Maybe you should think in terms of multiple tags because they are cheaper than a phone. Off the top of my head, scatter a bunch of x and o tags that people would take to a tic tac toe (naughts and crosses) game cache/person. Something where game progress determined what tag type you want would be fun.

 

Thanks for the suggestion. I'm not sure what you mean by multiple tags, but what I do want is for everyone to be able to place their own tags to create challenges for their friends. I definitely think that game progress determined by tag type is a must.

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Keep in mind that batteryless inductive NFC (RFID) tags are with today's technology limited to a couple feet at most, unless the console antenna is made really HUGE.

 

When deciding for a master thesis project I almost signed up for one which was to develop an orienteering system using RFID tags and a pocket reader instead of the ordinary hole puncher and cards. The idea was also that the "reader" every participant would use should have GPS and some sort of long range communication such as ordinary GSM or other cell phone service which phoned home every action, so that the participants' progress could be followed by an audience.

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Glad I found this thread. I was going to ask if anyone else used them with the game, but I was thinking of getting some made up to program with my user name and leave them in the log book. Problem is the mini NFC stickers seem to only be shipped in multiples of 1k, and at US$0.79 each, that really adds up. And the larger ones are probably too big for most logs.

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Chirp, NFC, QR code, they all require you have an additional device or acquire a new device that has the requisite hardware. How many gadgets do I need to take with me caching?

Well do you take your boat, scuba gear and rock climbing equipment each time you go caching?

Just because a cache requires special equipment there is no requirement that you must attempt to find that particular cache.

 

If a cache is in a peculiar location I may accept that I lack the equipment/ability/inclination to retrieve it.

 

GS opened the door to special technology when they allowed the use of chirps and the even earlier Wherigos. Of course this was when GS and Garmin got along. Now that Garmin started their own cache listing service new technology may have a tougher time getting in the door.

 

Wherigo seems to be a good idea in principal but not particularly well implemented, not least because if a cartridge crashes you still have to physically go from point to point again, as opposed to being able to pick up where you left off. Chirp seems like a solution desperately looking for a problem.

 

If using a clever new technology opens doors to have a new clever cache that's one thing, but if all it basically does is introduce yet another case of "you can't do this cache unless you've got this particular gizmo" it seems counterproductive. You might as well say that you can't claim a cache unless you can prove you carried a large albatross to and from the container.

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If using a clever new technology opens doors to have a new clever cache that's one thing, but if all it basically does is introduce yet another case of "you can't do this cache unless you've got this particular gizmo" it seems counterproductive. You might as well say that you can't claim a cache unless you can prove you carried a large albatross to and from the container.

 

While I do agree with this statement, I think NFC tech will become ubiquitous due to its use in mobile payments.

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I have just placed a Geocache that has incorporated the NFC technology as well as QR tags in a small multi. Behind the Hall, Now with FNC. (Auckland) GC3XYD6.

 

As well I have made a Travel Bug with an NFC Tag and a Casino Chip. NFC Discover Me Tag TB4V4E7

 

I am using a USB NFC Reader Writer that can encode URLs, Plain Text, Phone Numbers and much more.

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I have just placed a Geocache that has incorporated the NFC technology as well as QR tags in a small multi. Behind the Hall, Now with FNC. (Auckland) GC3XYD6.

 

As well I have made a Travel Bug with an NFC Tag and a Casino Chip. NFC Discover Me Tag TB4V4E7

 

I am using a USB NFC Reader Writer that can encode URLs, Plain Text, Phone Numbers and much more.

Sounds interesting!

 

When the tag is scanned, does it give you coordinates for the next waypoint? Do you encode it as NDEF data? Which NFC app? NFC TagInfo, NFC TagInfo by NXP, or some other app? And finally, what do you encode on your TB?

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If using a clever new technology opens doors to have a new clever cache that's one thing, but if all it basically does is introduce yet another case of "you can't do this cache unless you've got this particular gizmo" it seems counterproductive. You might as well say that you can't claim a cache unless you can prove you carried a large albatross to and from the container.

 

While I do agree with this statement, I think NFC tech will become ubiquitous due to its use in mobile payments.

 

As long as the same standards work across borders it might be as you suggest. If it creates another international barrier then it just become a barrier for cachers from elsewhere.

 

When I take my GPS from the UK to the US I know it will work, I know it will act just like it did in the UK and I can find caches just as I did in the UK. If my NFC device (assuming I even have one) doesn't work in the US because of standards being different it just creates a bunch of caches that I can't find. Again, if the NFC aspect of it makes a cache into a more clever cache then I'd list it as just one of those things just as I accept that I won't find a cache at the top of a tall tree whatever country happens to host the tree, but if it's just a simple case of using a chip because it's there then it becomes exclusionary without offering any great benefit along the way.

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I have just placed a Geocache that has incorporated the NFC technology as well as QR tags in a small multi. Behind the Hall, Now with FNC. (Auckland) GC3XYD6.

 

As well I have made a Travel Bug with an NFC Tag and a Casino Chip. NFC Discover Me Tag TB4V4E7

 

I am using a USB NFC Reader Writer that can encode URLs, Plain Text, Phone Numbers and much more.

Sounds interesting!

 

When the tag is scanned, does it give you coordinates for the next waypoint? Do you encode it as NDEF data? Which NFC app? NFC TagInfo, NFC TagInfo by NXP, or some other app? And finally, what do you encode on your TB?

 

I encoded the co-ords only onto the chip on the GoToTags USB Reader/Writer on the Desktop PC.

 

I used the GoToTags programme to do the writing.

 

The Tag is a Mifare Classic 1K Chip (716 Bytes)

 

The Casino TB chip was encoded with the URL of the travel bugs number.

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I encoded the co-ords only onto the chip on the GoToTags USB Reader/Writer on the Desktop PC.

 

I used the GoToTags programme to do the writing.

Could you have used a NFC equipped smartphone to do the writing? Seems like the app NFC TagWriter by NXP should be able to do write a geolocation to the tag.

 

And another thing, do you mean FNC or NFC? :) Google didn't turn up anything for "FNC" with cellphone.

Edited by Chrysalides
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I encoded the co-ords only onto the chip on the GoToTags USB Reader/Writer on the Desktop PC.

 

I used the GoToTags programme to do the writing.

Could you have used a NFC equipped smartphone to do the writing? Seems like the app NFC TagWriter by NXP should be able to do write a geolocation to the tag.

 

And another thing, do you mean FNC or NFC? :) Google didn't turn up anything for "FNC" with cellphone.

 

Yes you can use a smart phone to encode the Tags as well. NFC Labels nTag Manager App is one of them

 

Thanks for the heads up on the Typo. :o

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This tread inspired me to create a NFC cache, which was published today; GC3Y4M2

I did a lot of research, and found this site very helpful.

 

It looks like you need to be careful with the `1K` Tag's as they can not be locked with an Android app' leaving them open to being changed!!

 

I went for an `Ultralight` Keyfob Tag, as I was planning to place it in the countryside and I could either hang it on a wire fence, or use a screw to fix it.

 

If you go for stickers with the plan to use them on metal, make sure they are the right type, as I understand, that unless specially designed, they will not work.

 

edit; correct link, and typo

Edited by chillypenguin
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If you go for stickers with the plan to use them on metal, make sure they are the right type, as I understand, that unless specially designed, they will not work.

They're called "anti-metal". Stickers are water resistant, tokens are waterproof. NTAG203 appears to the the ones to go for. They cost about $1.50 each (stickers are cheaper, obviously).

 

I have some on order, expecting them within these few days. Looking forward to playing with them.

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I concur with using NTAG203's I went for "Ulralight's" they have room for co-ord's in "N dd mm.mmm W dd mm.mmm" format. But not much else. In Geo Location format you would have to reduce the number of digits after the decimal point, losing some accuracy.

 

Also I did not use Geo Location format, as I am unsure how well supported it is. Choosing to use plain text as any Tag reader software should work.

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Coming a bit late to this topic but I have just received a LG Nexus 4 phone and it has NFC so experimenting with a few things. I used Tagwriter from the Playstore here and it has a format to write geo tags. It also has the ability to read the current location from the gps and write that to the tag, very handy.

I dont know if its a JB-specific thing, the Nexus is running v4.2.1 but when you scan one of these geo-formatted tags you get the option to start up Google Earth, Maps, or Radar which makes things very easy.

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Just ordered a set of 10 and looking forward to playing around with them. Went to Fry's Electronics and asked if they had any and had to go through 4 people before anyone knew what I was talking about. The only ones they had were the Samsung Tectiles and they were kind of expensive so I ordered via amazon and got twice as many for the same price.

 

I see at least two NFC tag caches. Has anyone put one out in a multi format? Is it possible to set up the tag to give you new coordinates AND the option to open up Google maps or whatever other driving map people might have on their phones or would it be app specific instead of a general option of maps being activated?

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Coming a bit late to this topic but I have just received a LG Nexus 4 phone and it has NFC so experimenting with a few things. I used Tagwriter from the Playstore here and it has a format to write geo tags. It also has the ability to read the current location from the gps and write that to the tag, very handy.

I dont know if its a JB-specific thing, the Nexus is running v4.2.1 but when you scan one of these geo-formatted tags you get the option to start up Google Earth, Maps, or Radar which makes things very easy.

 

Just got Tagwriter on my Galaxy and when i go to create content is thows Contact, Bookmark, Plain text and SMS so how did you get it to write geolocaiton data.

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Coming a bit late to this topic but I have just received a LG Nexus 4 phone and it has NFC so experimenting with a few things. I used Tagwriter from the Playstore here and it has a format to write geo tags. It also has the ability to read the current location from the gps and write that to the tag, very handy.

I dont know if its a JB-specific thing, the Nexus is running v4.2.1 but when you scan one of these geo-formatted tags you get the option to start up Google Earth, Maps, or Radar which makes things very easy.

 

Just got Tagwriter on my Galaxy and when i go to create content is thows Contact, Bookmark, Plain text and SMS so how did you get it to write geolocaiton data.

 

I don't have an NFC Phone (Yet) but using my USB NFC Reader/Writer I made a tag that when read would take me to a location in Goole Maps.

 

The location I had was -37° 45.267 175° 17.465 and when the tag was written its URL address was

 

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=-37%C2%B0%2045.267%20175%C2%B0%2017.465

 

Right click on the above URL to see the full address,then select properties. This page is not showing it.

 

Space used on the tag was 67 Bytes

 

You may try typing in your location in the plain text it could work.

Edited by Zork V
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Coming a bit late to this topic but I have just received a LG Nexus 4 phone and it has NFC so experimenting with a few things. I used Tagwriter from the Playstore here and it has a format to write geo tags. It also has the ability to read the current location from the gps and write that to the tag, very handy.

I dont know if its a JB-specific thing, the Nexus is running v4.2.1 but when you scan one of these geo-formatted tags you get the option to start up Google Earth, Maps, or Radar which makes things very easy.

 

Just got Tagwriter on my Galaxy and when i go to create content is thows Contact, Bookmark, Plain text and SMS so how did you get it to write geolocaiton data.

 

Open Tagwriter, hit the Menu Button, select Preferences.

Under Version Management select Switch UI Mode.

Then select Professional Edition (promotion)

Hit done. Now when you select New there are more selections available - Geo location is one of them ....

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I see at least two NFC tag caches. Has anyone put one out in a multi format? Is it possible to set up the tag to give you new coordinates AND the option to open up Google maps or whatever other driving map people might have on their phones or would it be app specific instead of a general option of maps being activated?

 

The tag gets written in the format "geo:-35.xxxx 174.yyyy" and I think this is an android thing not an app-specific thing because after writing the geo tag I deleted the TagWriter app and the tag was still read OK with the option of starting Earth, Maps or Radar.

I have GPS Status installed so when I select the Radar option GPS Status pops up and displays the coordinates as the target. You then have the option to Show on Map which pulls up your default (Google?) map.

I dont know if it would be possible but it would be rather neat to have the coordinates written directly into your geocaching app but maybe thats expecting too much :rolleyes:

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Thanks. Now to await the arrival of my tags.

Hope they are NTAG203 as I couldn't get geolocation to work on Type 2 tags due to the lack of space. :)

Being pedantic here : NTAG203 are Type 2 tags :)

 

You should be able to get geolocation to work with Ultralight (46 byte) tags. You don't need that much precision (8 decimal places should be more than sufficient) so we're looking at under 40 bytes. You probably won't be able to store a name though. If you encode it as a text string, "N xx xx.xxx E xxx xx.xxx" is only 24 bytes, + 7 bytes header = 31 bytes, giving you space for a short text description.

 

Having said all that, unless you're deploying large quantities, the small price difference of NTAG203 over Ultralight is definitely worth it. I seem to recall that there are possible compatibility issues with Mifare Classic 1k.

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They aren't that they are standard 1K which have eight times the space.

But remember that they can't be locked (by most phones anyway) as don't stick them 'in the wild' or someone could decided to recode it!

 

Don't know where you get your information but here is the listing and is says "Lockable" If the phone won't lock them that is a problem with the phone not the tag.

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006TGTEV0/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i00a

 

They don't work with Nexus 7 and 10 but everything else.

Edited by Walts Hunting
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They aren't that they are standard 1K which have eight times the space.

But remember that they can't be locked (by most phones anyway) as don't stick them 'in the wild' or someone could decided to recode it!

 

Don't know where you get your information but here is the listing and is says "Lockable" If the phone won't lock them that is a problem with the phone not the tag.

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006TGTEV0/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i00a

 

They don't work with Nexus 7 and 10 but everything else.

These are the ones I ordered! Should be here tomorrow.

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They aren't that they are standard 1K which have eight times the space.

But remember that they can't be locked (by most phones anyway) as don't stick them 'in the wild' or someone could decided to recode it!

 

Don't know where you get your information but here is the listing and is says "Lockable" If the phone won't lock them that is a problem with the phone not the tag.

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006TGTEV0/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i00a

 

They don't work with Nexus 7 and 10 but everything else.

These are the ones I ordered! Should be here tomorrow.

 

For geocaching you may want to consider something like these ones...... they are waterproof and anti-metal which means they can be stuck to metal surfaces. Ordinary tags cannot be placed on metal, they will not work.

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You should be able to get geolocation to work with Ultralight (46 byte) tags. You don't need that much precision (8 decimal places should be more than sufficient) so we're looking at under 40 bytes. You probably won't be able to store a name though. If you encode it as a text string, "N xx xx.xxx E xxx xx.xxx" is only 24 bytes, + 7 bytes header = 31 bytes, giving you space for a short text description.

Mmmm..yes you are correct..Ultralight! I couldn't remember what they were called so just scanned on and it came up as type 2 :unsure:

 

I tried shortening the precision to reduce the data size, but I can't remember if they didn't encode or you couldn't read them as geolocation tags. The only way I found to work was to use NTAG203 and select 'use current location', but it maybe a shortcoming of the phone/app etc

 

 

Edited by eusty
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OK...I lied!!

 

I had a couple lying about so I tried it with 8 point precision...and everything worked fine, no idea why it didn't last time :huh:

 

The geolocation header is 10 bytes, but if you add a comment it increases to 22. So you can use Ulralight for geolocation, although realistically you need NTAG203 to add much of a comment.

 

Which handy as you can use these which makes fixing easier :)

Edited by eusty
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Got the tags today and experimented.

 

Easy to write a text message so people can read the coordinates. Tried setting it to a geo location and it defaults to xx.xxxxxxxx xxx.xxxxxxxx. Wrote that and then read it so see what my Galaxy S3 would do. After it reads it comes with a screen that has three offerrings.

 

1. VZNavigator (yes I am on Verizon) which I don't use so disregared that.

 

2. Google Maps and when I touch that it opens and shows the location but no icon on the screen to touch and say go to

 

3. Locus Pro: It opens and shows an icon which I can touch and it will either let me go directly (no turn by turn) or use a compass.

 

So it looks like Locus Pro would get the job done but I would have to touch the location icon and figure out how to drive there and then set it do compass and find it which is doable.

 

Thanks for starting this thread.

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I'd be interested too :)

 

The issue I have is that the only ruggedised tags I can get are Ultralite, so restricted to 46bytes.To fit the data on a tag with a single identifier you can only have a precision of four decimal places.

 

geo:38.8977,-77.0366?q=38.8977,-77.0366(1)

 

This means a resolution of 22ft...which really isn't enough :(

 

 

EDIT: Going to try some of these as see how they stand up outside.

 

Edited by eusty
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