TIME‘s Doug Aamoth today extols the virtues of NFC as a kind of virtual key chain that will eventually let us leave our clunky key chains and security cards at home. Aamoth outlines a new system called Key2Share that enables users to grant access to an NFC-enabled lock via email, making it easy for hotels to allow guests immediate entry rather than checking in, for instance, or for owners of rental properties to allow access to clients without having to hand over actual keys.
The value of NFC-based access systems is obvious, of course, but there are several other uses where the technology is likely to be a game-changer: Mobile marketing, gaming, social networking and peer-to-peer content transfers will all increasingly powered by NFC over the next few years, and specific kinds of uses in healthcare are especially promising. And NFC could be crucial in authentication beyond simple keys, helping us do away with passwords and encryption schemes. Each of those uses could be far more valuable than mobile payments, where NFC continues to generate hype despite its lack of traction.