Q&A with John Mclear

Here is a quick little Q & A that we did with this guy

John

Are there still plans to integrate NFC unlocking functionality into the AOSP core?

Absolutely, we have started more discussions around this.  The basic conundrum with AOSP unlock mechanisms is that there doesn’t exist much in the way of support for graceful fallback so we’d have to address that first then we’d look at implementing NFC unlock into AOSP core.  Tasker does have some support for allowing NFC unlock OR the system unlock which is pretty nice, still this isn’t in Android AOSP. Pretty much the entire NFC Ring team is eager to see this but we will need to spend a fair amount of resources lobbying both the Android community and Google to adopt this(whatever form this takes).  I think the next big step for unlock is a trustworthy open-source version of the NFC Ring Unlock App.  I wont be genuinely happy with the solution we have in place for this until the app is open source and everyone can review the code which at the moment isn’t the case.  I’m trying hard to lobby our entire team to take the open-source approach but the support from developer communities to test/contribute to the NFC Ring Control app has been a little disappointing so it’s a tough sell.  Hopefully we can do better to reach out to developers to contribute to that and we can go from there.

When will my ring get here?

I’m expecting the next shipment on March the 6th so hopefully it could be as soon as March the 10th, I’m hoping and aiming to have all KS orders fulfilled within March but I expect some spill-over into April.  What is crazy is that 5% or so of all backers still haven’t even placed their order request, obviously those people will be difficult to fulfill on schedule.

Will my ring work with a case

It depends on the case.  The main factors are the type of ring (Classic of Alpha), the phone you have, the type of case and the thickness.  Some people get on fine with a case and their ring, some people don’t.  I know a bunch of our community is working towards documenting this so the best place to ask is probably the forum.  I’m also seeing a lot of modified cases begin to pop up, these cases have a small hole in for the sweet spot, this is a really cool idea and we’re going to provide sweet spot data to those companies who want to make this type of a solution!

I’m an italian guy.  would like to buy one, how can I do?

Visit http://nfcring.com and register your email, we will get in touch when we’re taking pre-orders.

What are your plans after kickstarter?

My personal plans are to move away from the day-to-day operations at McLear Ltd and focus more heavily on the R&D and work on future products, that’s where my heart is really.  I find great pleasure in solving problems and also talking with the community about their wants and needs.  I’m not really one for marketing/sales, that’s me personally though..

What’s next for the NFC ring?

From my side of things..  More storage, improved tuning and a bunch of special limited edition rings.  Also REALLY exclusive rings at a really high price point in precious metals…  No doubt other people in the company will have other things they want to see happen but I think from a product/R&D perspective those are the things I want more than anything else..

When will pre orders launch

Q1 2014, we’re going to announce the date early to Kickstarter backers, allowing those early adopters exclusive preorder access. Then they will be made available to the general public shortly after.

Are we going to be able to custom design our own rings?

You will be able to custom design your own inlay artwork, we offered this at Kickstarter and it became a bit of a pain to manage, we need a decent robust system in place to ensure the cost is kept low so with that in mind it will take a few months after we take normal orders to start taking custom jobs.  I don’t think we can offer a custom 3D design package though, the problem with allowing you to change the structure of the metal is that it affects antenna tuning so each custom ring would have a minimum order quantity of 10,000 or so!

Where will I be able to buy a ring?

http://nfcring.com and through other retailers both offline and online!  Hopefully within 2014 you will see them in Mobile phone shops and possibly as offers with your mobile phone contract!  I’m mindful though that this is still new technology and I expect everyone will take a little while to get used to it..  I think the Mobile phone angle is just one part of an entire set of features you can do with your ring.

Can the ring be used to wake the phone up before unlocking?

Yes, but you need a custom Android ROM / Unlocked phone.  This is going to reduce your battery life, I’m not sure it’s a win/win situation to be honest..

Is it possible to make payments with the ring?

Technically, yes, practically, no.  The EMV certification required for making currently popular payment mechanisms such as Visa and Mastercard require a lot of capital investment.  I hope to get to that stage relatively quickly in our product development but I’m also mindful about the growth and understandable popularity of crypto-currencies. I’m keen to support consumers in adopting these new technologies as I feel they represent the future of consumer purchases..  However that’s my opinion, it might be the company as a whole wants to persue to the EMV route, it really depends on how quickly McLear Ltd grows, obviously the quicker McLear Ltd grows the quicker it can afford to adopt new technologies.  Personally I’d rather spend my time/effort on what I see as the future of currencies but that might be something that is 5 years away and I don’t think the NFC Ring would have a big enough impact to really bring consumers over to crypto-currencies to justify the loss of income it might face by not supporting current existing payment mechanisms.  That said, and here is the kicker..  There is nothing to stop a sponsor bank and a payment provider reaching out to McLear Ltd and sponsoring the entire process which could mean you might have rings that can make contactless payments within 6 months..

How will I know when my ring is on its way?

You will receive an email.

Ahhhh i’ve changed address is it too late?

Email support@nfcring.com to find out, it’s usually okay though..  Assuming your ring hasn’t shipped yet it will be fine for us to change it :)

Is there still going to be a kickstarter discount for pre orders? 

Absolutely, 25% discount, even if it requires my gnawing off the face of an Ox there will be discount for those people.  I’m 100% committed to this.  It’s the least you guys deserve for all the support you have given us.

My phone struggles to read the ring why?

  • Your ring isn’t compatible with your phone or the app isn’t helping you enough
  • Use the NFC Ring Control App to show you where the sweet spot is.
  • Ensure you always hit the sweet spot (The stickers help a LOT!)
  • Ensure the inlays (the colored bits) are actually facing your sweet spot
  • Ensure you don’t have anything(such as a case) in-between your inlays and your sweet spot
  • Turn up the volume on your device, it actually makes it a lot easier

Why is my Sweetspot so small?

Your sweet spot is designed to be small, it’s because of the way antennas work..

Antenna matching is a bit of a black art, it’s complex but I will try to cover it now..  Bare with me though, it’s complex…

The antenna on the classic ring is small whereas the antenna on your phone is quite large, this can cause antenna matching issues.  The Alpha’s antenna is bigger so the sweet spot is larger, the trade off is the ring is larger so it takes a little while longer to get used to wearing..

I’m constantly working with our partners refining the NFC Rings, we’re basically at V4 or so of our antennas, each antenna development cycle takes a few months and costs many many thousands of dollars.  The NFC Ring represents a huge leap (thanks to various tech partners) in small antenna matching to large antennas.  The NFC ring is actually probably the most efficient ‘on metal’ antenna in the world *when you take into account the form factor and footprint of our antenna).

All of the above being said, we’re actually conscious that on some phones  our antenna performs so well that it can fire events (NFC activity) when you don’t want it to.  I was mindful about this from day one and we’re still keeping a close eye on how the phone market is evolving.

Thankfully the phone manufacturers are realizing the significance of small tag applications (like the NFC Ring) so are introducing smaller antennas meaning matching is more successful but in a limited area. This is a HUGE win-win for everyone and I’m really stoked to have played a small part in moving such a mountain as the mobile phone industry.  I’m also really grateful for the support we got from the NFC Ring backers. Without your support, we wouldn’t have had the voice we needed to talk to these huge mega-companies.

I think the long term solution for this is:
a) Phone manufacturers provide smaller antennas (We’re starting to see this shift) and display the NFC sweet spot location on their phones (We’re also seeing this)
b) We continue to improve our antenna tuning and ways to improve read performance and also educating everyone (This is a big part) about how NFC interacts with phones and other target devices.

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