“The final icon in the new wayfinding system is the education icon, which depicts a hand holding a phone over a simplified or pointing icon. As the name suggests, this icon is to explain the NFC interaction function to novice users. The logo is the largest of the icons and is used for products that typically do not have contactless interaction. Based on the survey results, the NFC Forum used this icon to help people who are not familiar with NFC understand the technology. Education icons also use simplified icons and pointer icons as a bridge to communicate with consumers. As people become more familiar with the technology, manufacturers will be able to switch from educational icons to simplified or pointing icons.
Author: STMicroelectronics Blog
STMicroelectronics recently updated its white paper on factors to consider in NFC design to improve user experience, and added the latest wayfinding system and guidelines from the NFC Forum to ensure that end device users have a better understanding of where and how the NFC contacts on their phone or watch are Using the NFC function opens a new chapter in the NFC application story. The new icon strives to capture group awareness to promote universal contactless solutions. Manufacturers are already players in this new behavior, and device companies must now choose the right icons, knowing that icons can affect product longevity. So let’s take a look at the reasons behind the launch of the new wayfinding signage system and how to get the most out of it.
Non-contact does not yet mean no resistance
Problems existing in the current user experience
The NFC Forum, of which STMicroelectronics is a member, published the results of a user experience survey in June 2021. Excessive experience time and lack of information are two of the most prominent issues consumers are responding to. For example, only 30% of people know where the NFC touchpoints on their mobile devices are. Unfortunately, about 35% of people had trouble with NFC the first few times, and 20% still sometimes had trouble remembering where the NFC contacts were. Digging into consumer responses, the NFC Forum found that more than 25% had difficulty finding touchpoints because they either didn’t have the relevant information or the information wasn’t helpful.
The global pandemic has further exacerbated the problem. The popularity of contactless payments has indeed grown significantly as people avoid touching coins, banknotes, and countertops. NFC swiping a bank card or phone overnight became a health-protection measure, attracting many people to start using the new feature. However, despite the sense of crisis, there are still too many people who sometimes do not know where the NFC contacts are, and do not know that virtual wallets have other uses besides payment. So, as the world emerges from the pandemic, the NFC Forum is seizing the opportunity to improve the situation.
The success of the contactless revolution
These numbers must be taken seriously. Nearly 90% of users, the first time they use NFC, the transaction is successful, which proves that the success rate of use is very high. In addition, the NFC Forum survey found that nearly 80% of people feel that the interaction process is natural. A study published in 2020 by ABI Research found similar results, with 88% of respondents reporting a good experience. Even more encouragingly, analysts found that after one use, the vast majority of users are using the technology almost every day, with more than 80 percent keeping more than one card in their mobile wallet. In short, most consumers have embraced NFC. The NFC Forum is now looking to help those with specific practical questions.
New wayfinding signage system released, as contactless can be effortless
Based on survey data, solutions to current challenges will come from new icons. According to the NFC Forum survey, 35% of respondents succeeded in finding a touchpoint despite having no information because they recognized a symbol. Therefore, the organization proposed a new simplified version of the N logo. This simplified version is intentionally widened to accommodate narrow objects such as car door handles. Likewise, mobile phone manufacturers can place it on products without compromising the aesthetics of the design. The new guide logo icon is two English letters N that cross each other, symbolizing the contact of two different objects, prompting the user that this position is a contact point.
point to icon
NFC Forum also designed two more icons on the basis of the simplified version. The first is the pointing icon, as it uses arrows to guide the user. This icon design is very eye-catching, using concentric waves to catch the consumer’s eye while leaving the impression of wireless interaction. In a supporting document, the NFC Forum anticipates that the icon will have the widest range of applications and will appear on a variety of products. Hotels can put it on doors, stores can put it on price tags, manufacturers can put it on packaging, to name a few. The pointing icon does not imply payment and has no inclination, and represents the forum’s desire to expand NFC technology to more usage scenarios.
Although it wants to cover more application scenarios, a dedicated icon for wireless charging has also been created. The charging image is almost the same as the simplified version, just with an extra thunderbolt logo on top. This icon only applies to the charger case to avoid confusion, so the design is very minimalistic, with no waves pointing to the icon, which means this icon is limited to important usage scenarios. The NFC Forum knows that many people still struggle to understand wireless charging. Consumers don’t always know if a device supports wireless charging, and where. The NFC Forum hopes this dedicated icon will make wireless charging more common.
The final icon in the new wayfinding system is the education icon, which depicts a hand holding a phone over a simplified or pointing icon. As the name suggests, this icon is to explain the NFC interaction function to novice users. The logo is the largest of the icons and is used for products that typically do not have contactless interaction. Based on the survey results, the NFC Forum used this icon to help people who are not familiar with NFC understand the technology. Education icons also use simplified icons and pointer icons as a bridge to communicate with consumers. As people become more familiar with the technology, manufacturers will be able to switch from educational icons to simplified or pointing icons.
Better user experience means better technical education
The NFC Forum is trying to reduce the resistance to the adoption of the new signage system as much as possible. The use of icons is not tied to the authentication process, as the NFC Forum wants to democratize NFC as soon as possible. However, this can only be achieved by educating product manufacturers and the public. According to a study conducted by researchers in Vienna, NFC payments are blocked due to “several mythological concepts circulating among users”, and the authors suggest that “NFC has room for improvement in terms of usability and user experience”. Likewise, another paper published in 2019 showed that visual feedback played a key role in improving NFC payment terminal interactions2.
Potential application scenarios for the new wayfinding system. Source: NFC Forum
Therefore, the democratization of NFC urgently requires better education for manufacturers and the general public who manufacture NFC-compliant products, and it is for this reason that STMicroelectronics not only provides chips and development tools to help manufacturers adopt NFC technology in new products, For example, the first fragrance to support NFC. We also want to educate partners on important aspects of user experience, NFC touchpoints, the inner workings of the technology, how mobile devices use NFC, and how to build a successful application.