NFC Wi-fi App Launches at Droidcon Android Conference

[img_assist|nid=21707|title=|desc=|link=popup|align=left|width=124|height=150]TapToWifi is the first app from the Wayra Academys NFC start-up Blue Butterfly.

It aims to make wireless connectivity easier and safer – consumers are increasingly at risk of data theft by connecting to wireless networks set-up by criminals posing as free hotspots. With the app, users do not need to register to public wifi spots, remember a password or enter their email address. Just tap-to-WiFi.

By tapping the NFC-enabled chips which are stuck on posters or other real world objects, users are directed to Google Play to download the app. This then identifies safely accessible public wi-fi with participating stores or providers. Blue Butterfly is cloud-based, which means it can automatically update chips that have already been deployed.

The service is free to users, retailers and network providers. The team charges for additional advertising opportunities, which will include serving offers to frequent customers, and the use of some of the anonymised data collected.

“We are in a bit of a chicken and egg situation at the moment,” said Jack Wall, CTO of Blue Butterfly. “Manufacturers and retailers are actually not telling users about NFC because there is a lack of use case. They are waiting for a good sample of applications before they educate users.

“Likewise, developers dont want to build commercial NFC products because there are no educated users. It is more expensive and risky for educate and innovate.”

As Telefonica, who runs the Wayra Academy, is an investor in the company, Wall said that O2 will be a key partner going forward.

Blue Butterfly is testing the service on Android, with plans to move onto Blackberry and Windows 8. It hopes to get into stores so it can start educating and innovating in the NFC space.