One of the more exciting technologies on the horizon is NFC, short for Near Field Communication. You’ve probably heard quite a bit about the technology already: it’ll let you pay for things simply by tapping your phone against special sensors, and it’s already been integrated into the Nexus S — with a slew of NFC-equipped Android devices on the way (iPhone support has been long rumored, but it may not be included in the iPhone 5).
Granted, NFC has been “on the horizon” for quite a while now, and it still has a long way to go before it achieves any kind of mainstream adoption. But the potential’s there, and plenty of developers are eager to get a head start on the market. There’s just one problem: small developers and brands looking to get their hands on NFC stickers often have to deal with long waits, particularly when they’re ordering them in small batches.
Now a new Y Combinator-funded startup called Tagstand is hoping to become their new best friend, by offering to ship custom NFC stickers within less than 24 hours (plus however long it takes to ship them). And they’re also making the tags ‘smart’, by offering a bit.ly-like short URL service that’ll let you track when each one is used. Each sticker runs around $1, which seems to be around what other sites are charging for small batches (sidenote: Tagstand is already one of the top Google results for “buy NFC stickers”).
If you’re interested, Tagstand also has a special deal running for TC readers: head to this link, enter the discount code “techcrunch4nfc”, and you can order a free NFC sample pack (you’ll still have to pay for shipping).
The short-URL feature is pretty straightforward: when you place your order, Tagstand will associate each sticker with a unique URL. Then, once you receive your stickers, you can log into the site’s dashboard and configure where you’d like each of these short URLs to point to (the upshot to this is that you can change the URL even once the stickers are deployed in the field). The site also provides analytics on how often each of these stickers is used.
In the longer term, the Tagstand team says they don’t see themselves as an NFC sticker company, at least not exclusively. Instead, they want to be help make NFC as easy as possible for developers to take advantage of — and that includes building software, too. They’re currently working on developing libraries that will help programmers integrate NFC into their own applications more easily.
But for now their current focus is on selling the custom stickers, which has a nice side effect: in the process of distributing these stickers, Tagstand is connecting with a lot of developers and brands interested in NFC, which gives them a sense of how people will be using the technology. Which, in turn, will help them shape their future products.