NFC-enabled Coffee Mugs
Don Scansen posted on December 26, 2012 | 9764 views

Happy holidays to all the readers, contributors and supporters of all kinds from the editors of the Electronics section of

Perhaps it’s the sugar rush or some other over-indulgence, but the extra bustle of holiday visitors puts me in the gadget frame of mind. Actually, that may not be too much of a stretch in the many households now brimming with new tablet computers, smart phones and game consoles. We have our share at our place with a new Wii U (my daughter says no teardown on this one, please and thank you) and an electronic drum set, but that’s not what has my mind wandering from sugarplums and back to technology.

You see we have a common problem whenever Grandma and Grandpa visit because it doubles the number of morning coffee cups to keep track of. This is more of an issue than you may think since coffee time drags on for hours and multiple pots during any family holiday. Countless hours have been spent searching for missing cups when a fresh pot of brew appears or asking the question, “Is this your cup or mine?”

Now we have discussed near-field communications or NFC technology extensively here on the pages of Electronics. NFC has been touted although with limited acceptance on either the consumer or retailer side. “Will NFC ever take off?” being question that appears with each new smartphone brew, particularly Apple’s iPhones which have not yet adopted the technology.

I think the solution is NFC tags in coffee cups. This has obvious appeal to the chip manufacturers since coffee cups represent a much larger market than smartphones, even with over a billion mobile phone subscribers world wide.

With a uniquely identified, NFC-enabled coffee mug, the smartphone you are carrying will let you know when you are within range of the right cup.

Unfortunately, the short range of the NFC standard will not help me find my misplaced cup. Did I leave it in the kitchen, or take it to the computer, or the TV room?

Maybe we could just get a Sharpie and write some names on those cups.

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