As patent application illustrations go, Canon hasn't exactly pushed the boat out this time, but there's enough to see that the company is interested in how digital cameras and cellphones might one day talk among themselves. In an application titled "Communication Device and Control Method Thereof", Canon outlines a system whereby NFC - or another short-range wireless technology - could be used to turn your cellphone display into an ad-hoc viewer for content on your digital camera, as well as transferring content across or updating settings.
As soon as the camera and phone are moved within wireless range, the processors in each bump heads and figure out the exact capabilities on offer: so, if your phone has a data connection, you may be offered uploading functionality to put your pictures onto Flickr or another online gallery. Meanwhile, Canon expects the same wireless negotiation protocols to be used in other hardware, such as printers, so that moving the camera close to a printer would offer task-specific choices such as producing thumbnail previews or whole-page images.
Considering we're seeing a push for NFC in mobile devices by Google, with Android 2.3 and the NFC hardware in the Nexus S, together with companies like Apple seemingly looking to the short-range wireless as well, this could well be a useful system for getting DSLR content online more easily and without a computer.