inTouch Innovate leaps forward with NFC on BlackBerry apps

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As a long-time developer, Kendro Hendra has a keen sense of emerging technologies. That’s why it’s no surprise that the chief executive at inTouch Innovate Indonesia has made it a priority for his company to research and develop applications that leverage Near Field Communications (NFC). The NFC feature, which enables applications to interact with smart tags, smart accessories, and other NFC-enabled devices, has already been utilized by inTouch in a number of popular applications.

Kendro talks about the tools inTouch used to develop NFC-enabled apps, introduction of NFC capabilities in their existing apps and the unique features for BlackBerry smartphones that were key to success of their apps.

Tell us about the development tools you used to develop BlackBerry apps and the importance of NFC capabilities.

We developed using the BlackBerry Java® Development Environment, which was a great tool to work with. The JDE helped us create projects that we could automatically build and package into applications. We were also able to take advantage of BlackBerry NFC API’s such as NFC Reader API, NFC Emulation API, and NFC Listener API, which were extremely helpful. In terms of NFC as an emerging technology, one thing that’s important to understand is that it’s not restricted to payment-related functions. As a developer, you can utilize NFC in a number of interesting ways, from tag-reading smart posters to emulating something like a campus card. We’re working on a smart campus app that will act as an alternative student ID for daily attendance, library access, parking and payment at the cafeteria.

Your AIRewards app will soon feature NFC capability. How will it work?

The application allows merchants to distribute coupons, gift vouchers and tickets using BlackBerry smartphones. When you purchase something from a participating merchant, you scan a QR code and collect a stamp, which can then be redeemed for free products. The application is also integrated with BlackBerry® Messenger (BBM™) and the Facebook® for BlackBerry® smartphones app, allowing users to share stamps with other members and post what they’ve collected on their BBM profile or Facebook page. With other platforms, our work on NFC has been mainly research-based, but with RIM we’ve had specific projects like this in mind for a while. Once people get used to tapping their phones with smart tags, smart accessories, and other NFC-enabled devices, it will be much easier to use than QR codes.

What unique RIM features have been particularly important to the success of your applications?

The AIRewards app is a good example of some of the features we’ve leveraged. The BlackBerry Push Service is definitely very important. It allows us to notify the user about a merchant’s offer shortly before it expires, which encourages people to go back to that business and purchase more of their goods. We think that BBM is a killer app that no one can live without. It’s extremely popular in Indonesia and it allows people to update their profile with URLs and deals that they’ve redeemed. When they do so, their friends can click on the URL and download the same application. Since sharing is such a vital part of the BlackBerry community, these features are significant.

Thank you for your time, Kendro! Readers – stop by the inTouch website to see what the team is currently up to.

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