Innovation for Independence

How do I…? Use of Near Field Communication to Teach Independent Living Skills

Publish date:
05/01/2015 - 7:30pm
Last updated:
05/01/2015 - 7:30pm

Simple but engaging tools have the best outcomes to support to people with differing physical and sensory abilities and a wide range of learning styles. For the first time, we want to use NFC technology to teach real world skills and facilitate transitions to independent living for people with learning disabilities (“LD”). A tablet or smartphone application will link instructional videos to NFC-enabled stickers or tags attached to household items or appliances. When an individual holds their NFC enabled device over one of the pre-programmed stickers or tags, the app will launch a video for that object, e.g. How do I make a cup of tea? on the kettle. How do I make a piece of toast? on the toaster. How do I get dressed? on the wardrobe. Using this new approach, smart consumer devices can encourage independence, and make a measurable improvement to life at home and elsewhere. We will create video content with LD learners to see whether familiarity increases engagement and learning. We will also investigate the development of a toolkit for people to create their own content and explore options for standardised content. We will look to personalise NFC sticker packs, and sub-divide content into component stages, thereby enabling and measuring smaller increments of learning.

Insight & Impact

I am a Governor at Swiss Cottage School, Development and Research Centre which is an outstanding school for learners aged 2-19 - we are passionate about creating and disseminating best practice in special needs education. Independent living skills is one of our key areas of teaching and learning - life beyond Swiss Cottage as our learners mature into young adults can be difficult both for learners and their families. Tom Casson, a life skills teacher at the school with a background in graphic design, started using QR codes to teach life skills and this has developed into the How Do I..? idea. Having a simple, affordable tool which can be used in many different settings (e.g. at home, in recreation facilities, on public transport, at work, in school etc.) to promote autonomy, personal choice and independence has the potential to make a significant difference to the life of those with LD. The solution can be personalised with NFC stickers / tags tailored to specific needs or aspirations of the individual, e.g. dressing or personal hygiene routines, cooking independently etc. Widespread adoption by appliance manufacturers could also have significant beneficial consequences for the rest of society, i.e. for anyone that has ever struggled to understand an instruction manual.

Skills needed for this project

  • We lack the skills needed to make the native phone / tablet application and design & build a back end system to add videos and provide ongoing technical support. We have received one quote from a digital agency with the necessary capability for £21,000. W

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NSF Trading's picture
We have developed a system that does this using ibeacons and a content delivery platform. The product is called FlyCatcher and will be available for purchase in March 2016. For more information drop me, David Finch, a line at
NSF Trading's picture
Saying that, FlyCatcher is a different approach and your idea sounds perfectly suited to people needing information in their own homes or residences. FlyCatcher works more across organisations and larger workspaces. It would be useful to compare. Your system is a great idea and a much needed approach for people learning specific life skills routines.