NFC (Near-Field Communication) chips are extremely cheap to purchase in bulk, and often cost just pennies. That means that it’s practical for companies to use them in disposable items, such as key cards at hotels or admission tickets at theme parks like those operated by Disney. The expectation is that you’ll just throw them away when you leave the park. But there is a still a perfectly good NFC chip in the card that you can continue to use afterward. In his guide on Element14, Matt Collinge will walk you through how to use them as smartphone NFC task triggers.
The form factor of an NFC card, like Disney’s MagicPass, is the result of familiarity. It’s the same size as a credit card and easy to keep track of. The actual NFC chip embedded inside is actually very small, and only a few chip models are used in the vast majority of those cards. To find out if a card you have has an NFC chip inside that your smartphone can read, all you have to do is download an NFC scanner app and put the card against your phone. If its compatible, the app will show some information from the card.
Depending on the NFC chip in use, it can be difficult or impossible to change the information that comes up when you scan it. Luckily, if you just want to use the card as a task trigger, you don’t have. The NFC chip will have a unique identifier, which is all you need. With that, you can use an app, like Automate on Android, to setup the task you want to trigger with the card. For example, you can scan one card to launch a Spotify playlist, and another card to put your phone into Do Not Disturb mode. It’s a simple hack, but it’s definitely better to upcycle those old NFC cards than throw them away.