How does NFC work?
What is NFC?
NFC (Near Field Communication) in simple terms is a technology that allows for the exchange of data between devices within a short-distance, typically 10cm or less. It touches on the RFID (Radio-frequency identification) technology which technology makes use of electromagnetic induction to enable the transmission of information over short distances. RFID is primarily used in keeping track of goods in places such as superstores, warehouses or shipping companies. NFC on the other hand is broken down to enable its use by the everyday people through smartphones, tablets or laptops. With NFC, data such as contact information, videos or photos can be securely passed from one NFC enabled device to another. This technology is also taking off as a secure alternative to credit cards.
Comparison with Bluetooth
Much as both technologies (Bluetooth and NFC) entail the transfer of data, there are differences between the two. With NFC, there is no need to manually pair or discover the other device(s) that are meant to be communicated with. The NFC technology works in such a way that communication is automatically established between two NFC-enabled devices as soon as they come within a certain distance of each other (four inches).
Much as both NFC and Bluetooth allow devices to have wireless communication over short distances, NFC is only capable of covering distance of around four inches while Bluetooth can reach distance of thirty feet and over. The huge distance covered by Bluetooth may be seen as an advantage until the issue of security pops up. Someone can easily hack into and steal information from a Bluetooth enabled device whereas with the NFC one, the person would have to be really close to you to do so.
To have a better understanding of NFC in comparison to Bluetooth, let’s have a look at some of their advantages and disadvantages:
- With NFC, power consumption is kept to a minimum, unless there is a need to power a passive source that is also not powered such as an NFC tag, then more power will be required in comparison to a Bluetooth transmission.
- Since there is no manual pairing of devices required, NFC use is easier compared to Bluetooth use.
- Owing to the secure advantage of short distance communication, NFC can be utilized in making secure payments. In addition, no user data is made available during the connection setup thus leaving the user anonymous.
- NFC takes away the need to have to sift through other available devices, especially when the communication between devices is being made in a crowded place.
- NFC has the potential of letting users turn to Bluetooth if the need arises. All the user has to do is connect via NFC with the other device and then turn to a Bluetooth signal without there being a break in the connection.
Ultimately, both technologies are capable of working seamlessly together, especially with the introduction of the Bluetooth low energy (BLE) which help curb power consumptions in Bluetooth technology.
How can I use NFC?
Technically, NFC has the potential of taking over a number of things from your wallet to the card that takes you places. Think of your business card, your hotel room card, your public transportation card or even your boarding pass for a plane. In essence, anything that can benefit from short distance communication between two devices!
For now though, NFC is popping up as a means to share data between two NFC-enabled devices. Information shared could be contact information, photos or videos. NFC is also being utilized in making secure payments via credit cards. All you have to do is wave your NFC-enabled device next to another NFC-enabled device and let the communication begin.