How to create an NFC-enabled “smart” business card
Business cards have been around for centuries and have been an efficient tool for self-promotion. Traditionally, made from card stock and often adorned with your company’s logo and a collection of personal information designed to enable the recipient to get in contact with you.
The issue with old-school business cards is that you often have to buy in bulk and what happens to the excess when your details change?
There is an abundance of NFC-enabled business cards available that vary in price with some above £100 but I wondered how hard it would be to do it myself…
To complete this little project I needed a few things:
Firstly, I created a little design in Photoshop. It’s nothing too fancy, the card was going to be for one of our directors who leads our new venture into motorsport (https://g2emotorsport.co.uk ). I purposely left off details such as phone numbers and email addresses as they could potentially change and to be honest I liked the very minimalistic design. For the purpose of testing, I encoded the card with my data.
Next up, and probably most important, was an NFC-enabled card. I got mine via Amazon from https://nfctagify.com as they offered the ability to upload my front and back card design and they printed it on the card. Not bad for £6.99 including free delivery.
Once the card had arrived, it was time to encode it with data. Or rather it was time to decide what data to encode onto the NFC chip.
I downloaded a free app to handle the encoding called NFC Tools (available for both Android and iPhone), it does come in a “pro” version but I managed to do this without those features. The app allows you to add a lot of different “records” but one thing I noticed while testing is that my phone, a Google Pixel 3, would read the first record and then ignore everything after it. At present, I’m not sure if this is something that I can overcome or if it’s by design.
In the end, I decided to use a URL link as my chosen record and set up a single-page bio using https://solo.to, the reason for this is I could then add a number of links to other things I wanted to draw attention to.
I added links to a couple of our websites, a link to my Instagram and LinkedIn profiles and I also added a link to a contact file in .vcf format which I’d created on https://vcard.link
With my profile link set up, it was just left to encode it on the NFC card. So it was back to NFC tools
1) Click on the “Write” tab
2) Press “Add a record”
3) Select “URL / URI”
4) Enter your specific URL and click “OK”
5) Press “Write / x Bytes”
6) Present your NFC Card to your phone’s NFC reader (mine is on the back of the phone)
If everything has gone correctly and you’re no longer in the NFC Tools app, when you present your card to your NFC reader your default browser should open and display your solo.to profile, if you’ve done yours like mine you can then download the .vcf file to the phone which will open it and allow you to save it to your contacts or use the links to navigate to Instagram etc.
As you saw in the NFC Tools app there are lots of different record options, if you just want it to open your Instagram / LinkedIn profile you can do that without the need for a Solo.to profile. You can make it open Youtube links or even open a location in Google Maps.
Have a play and see what fits best for you.
After playing around with the NFC card and the NFC Tools app I’ve ended up with a fair few ideas of where I can use this NFC technology in the business and at home.
Overall, this project took a bit of effort and little cost to complete:
- Photoshop design: 1 hour
- Solo.to / vCard.link profiles: 30 minutes
- NFC Tools encoding: 10 minutes
- NFC-enabled Card: £6.99