What is NFC?
NFC stands for Near Field Communication. Essentially, it's a way for your Smartphone to interact with another device or tag in close proximity. It operates within about 4 cm and provides a wireless connection between your device and another device or tag. This allows for two-way communication, with both devices or tag involved being able to send and receive information.
What can I do with NFC?
NFC devices can be used in contactless payment systems, similar to those currently used in credit cards and electronic ticket smartcards, and allow mobile payments to replace or supplement these systems.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections
Connect to bluetooth or wifi networks
NFC can be used in social networking situations, such as sharing contacts, photos, videos or files, and entering multiplayer mobile games.
Identity and access tokens
The NFC Forum promotes the potential for NFC-enabled devices to act as electronic identity documents and keycards. As NFC has a short range and supports encryption, it may be more suitable than earlier, less private RFID systems.
Smartphone automation and NFC tags
Smartphones equipped with NFC can be paired with NFC tags or stickers which can be programmed by NFC apps to automate tasks. These programs can allow for a change of phone settings, a text to be created and sent, an app to be launched, or any number of commands to be executed, limited only by the NFC app and other apps on the smartphone.
How do I get started?
To encode an NFC tag, all you need to do is download an NFC Encoding app (Such as NFC Tools/Task from Wakdev or TagWriter/TagInfo from NXP) on your NFC enabled mobile or tablet and buy some tags.
Can tags be rewritten?
One of the benefits of tags, is that they can be rewritten. If you don't want this option, you are able to lock them to be read-only. Data can also be encrypted, password protected or limited to a certain number of uses before expiring.
How does a user trigger a tag?
A user only has to turn on their phone and 'tap' the tag by holding their phone within 10cm of the tag they wish to read. The phone firmware will respond accordingly.
Will it work on all surfaces or through materials?
The majority of NFC tags do not work on metal surfaces, as metal interferes with the aerials in the tags. Make sure you use on-metal tags which contain a ferrite layer when using NFC on metal surfaces. NFC does work through glass.
How close do I need to be?
Some tags can be read up to 10cm away on some phones, others require very close contact. Tag types also dictate this range, as do phone types and energy levels allocated to the reader hardware in the device.
Is having NFC turned on a big drain on my phone battery?
NFC does use a small amount of power, however the listener energy requirement of NFC is very small.