Google Pilots NFC Technology with Hotpot

Google has been testing an RFID-enabled service, coined Hotpot, in order to link local businesses with customers. So far, two pilot projects, one in Portland, Ore., and one in Austin, Texas, are using Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID technology to better connect consumers to companies.

Essentially, Hotpot is extension of Google’s Place Pages, only more personal. It’s a local recommendation engine for Google Places that’s powered by users and their friends—simply tell Google what you like, and they’ll recommend new places based on your preferences each time you search. Hotpot aims to bring Google to small businesses, helping the local economy by addressing their potential customers through Google marketing programs.

Currently, Google is experimenting with 13.56 MHz RFID tags with an embedded NFC sticker that attaches to the front of a store. Each tag is encoded with an ID number that communicates with NFC-enabled phones to display the appropriate Place Page for that business. As more and more consumers are equipped with such phones, users will be able to simply tap their phone against a tag on a business’ door or window and gain instant information about the establishment before they ever set foot in the door. In addition, users will be able to share their own recommendations with others and add ratings and reviews, which in turn, will allow the search engine to tailor future results based on the ratings.

While Austin and Portland are currently the only cities in the pilot program, Google ultimately plans to offer RFID-enabled Hotpot kits to targeted business districts throughout the U.S. Personally, I think it’s a great marketing tool for small businesses, especially ones that do not have the means for a website, or an updated one at that. Would you want Google Hotpot to come to your city? Let us know what you think about Google Hotpot by commenting here, or on our Facebook or Twitter pages