The companies are demonstrating how utility companies will be able to use NFC smart meters to:
- Save money by removing the need to include an LCD display in a smart meter. Meter readers will instead use an NFC-enabled phone to take a reading from the meter and then use their handset to collect and view current and historical energy consumption.
- Use an embedded secure element in the smart meter to increase customer privacy while at the same time providing the necessary level of access to installation and service technicians.
- Enable authorised maintenance technicians to download metering information to handsets or tablets as well as upload firmware updates to the meter via NFC.
- Use secure device pairing to deliver home area network (HAN) capabilities.
- Provide secure and convenient pre-payment of electricity and other utilities.
This is an interesting new use case for NFC. However, all the ideas mentioned above may not be easily implemented. For example, removing the LCD display on the meter may be a problem for users who want to check their consumption but do not have NFC-enabled devices, so the electricity provider would probably have to provide another way or give a free smartphone to user :).
The smartphone used in the demo above seems to be a GoogleNexus S, so there would be an Android App to read this meter (Don’t “run” to the Android Marketplace to check it out, it’s not there yet). Such application has probably been developed using Open NFC for Android with the application code calling the Android NFC API.