Use NFC To Unlock Your Android Phone Just By Picking It Up

Near-Field Communication (NFC), is useful for lots of things, such as automatically unlocking your Android phone when you pick it up. You can wear your tag like a ring, or even paint it onto a thumbnail. Adafruit’s Becky Stern explains how in this video.

We’ve shown you how to unlock your computer and automate rooms in your house with NFC — there’s no reason that your phone shouldn’t also be able to know its you as soon as you pick it up. Luckily, it’s easy to set up if you have the right components. Becky Stern (who just stopped by for an interview you should read) walks you through the project in the video above.

You’ll need a phone that supports NFC (and most popular Android phones do), and an NFC tag to unlock your device. You’ll also need to root and customise Android to support polling for NFC on-power, as opposed to after-unlock, but the Adafruit Learning System guide below explains how to do all of that. It also includes the APK required for the tweak. All you’ll need to do once you’re rooted is install it.

The guide walks you through each of the wearable NFC tag projects in the video, whether you want to go the easy route and just wear a tag glued to a vending-machine ring, try the 3D-printed ring with the tag embedded or go all-out with a thumbnail tag. Hit the link below for the full walkthrough, as well as more suggested uses for NFC/Tasker.

Unlock Android Phone with Wearable NFC [Adafruit Learning System]


  • I tried this a while ago, and didn’t get too far. I bought an NFC ring off of Dealextreme which turned out to be crap — you had to run your hand along the edge of the phone, up and down several times until it was detected and unlocked.

    But with that said, you can use the Xposed Framework and an NFC module (rooted) to easily set up unlocking via NFC, and even scan tags when your screen is off, making it a true pick-up-and-go.

    The other option could be gesture based unlocking. That is, detecting when your phone lifts up and tilts, as though you’ve pulled it out of your pocket or off the table, and unlocking that way.

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